A SURVEYOR’S ERRORS: Green Family Lands on Rocky River

Mistakes made in compiling family histories have repercussions far from the implications of misunderstood documentation such genealogies are built upon. For instance, every online report I have seen on the family of Gideon Green of Anson County, North Carolina, indicates him to be rooted in James Green Jr, of early Bath County, North Carolina. Not so! Gideon of Anson clearly appears in a 1772 Wake County civil action paper alongside Joseph Thomas and people close to a person there named Leonard Green –who happened to settle in the county from earlier in Edgecombe. Probably the father of Gideon Green, Leonard is the son of Richard Green, who passed from Chowan County through Bertie before moving beyond Edgecombe County. The ancestry of Gideon Green does not go back to James, as is colorfully told in error by many.

Looking at just one responsible site, Ancestry.com, nearly 1300 public trees base their genealogies on Gideon wrongly being assessed to be the son of James Green. There are other such sites, including WikiTree, FindaGrave, and FamilySearch. Mistakes are a part of life, but as I have always heard, a mistake is measured by how far back down the dirt road you have to walk to find the tool to fix it, but Wow! –this colossal number makes me laugh –and cry. I remain curious concerning Ancestry.com’s corporate take on how best to handle the spreading of such egregious errors. Do they even care? Thankfully, this writing does not delve into that sort of issue but instead into a simple and common surveyor’s mistake, which I discovered while tracing lands once owned by the family of Gideon Green. I am a retired educator; sorry, much of who I am grows from my love of teaching others. Let’s dig into the Green family lands situated along the Rocky River in old Anson County, now Union County.


On Aug 6, 1817, Anson County surveyor John Hough walked the land along the Rocky River and surveyed state grant 6318[A], which would be issued to Jesse Green on Nov 27, 1817. At that time, this son of deceased Gideon and his widow Elizabeth Green, Jesse Green received 200 acres on Rocky River “joining Elizabeth Green’s mill tract.” Note that the grant file number is suffixed with a bracketed letter [A]. The additional letter is used occasionally for clarity’s sake because the file number has been otherwise proven not to be distinct. Furthermore, the surveyor must have been confused as he titled the grant “Lenard Green,” which he struck through before correcting the name to be “Jesse Green.”   See below:

More important is a mistake involving the platting process and how the surveyor interpreted his numbers. Before moving forward, I must ensure the reader understands the process of platting land.


Based on an original compass reading at a given landmark or starting point, a survey plat is comprised of lines chasing one another from tail to head. Land boundaries are defined legally by a series of written descriptions representing hand-drawn boundary lines. Each line description includes two landmarks (tree, rock, or maybe the corner of another person’s land) that mark starting and endpoints. Descriptions also include distance defined by units of the measuring device used in the survey: a pole which equals 16 ½ feet or a chain which equals four poles. Lastly, the surveyor accounts for direction based on degrees east or west from either north or south. To explain this, let’s look at the compass to the right.

For example, look at the red line running northeast. Typically referencing degrees from the North-South axis, if this were a survey line, it would run 50 degrees East of due North. Considering another example, the blue line pointing to the southwest runs 33 degrees West of due South. This type of information appearing in surveys also includes a measured distance for which this scenario uses 64 poles.   Thus, the nomenclature used in survey descriptions typically begins with a starting landmark, such as a red oak (in this example), followed by the abbreviated direction and distance. Finally, descriptions include a stopping landmark such as a dogwood among three pines (in this example). Standing at the stopping point, a compass reading would be made for the new line before that line is measured using either the chain or pole. The terminology is called “metes and bounds,” with the landmarks being the metes (where lines come together) and the bounds being the actual line or vector running some defined direction based on an initial compass reading. As for our red and blue lines above, the metes and bounds may appear in a survey description as follows (if the distance were again 64 poles and the metes were trees as stated).

For the red line:

Beginning at a red oak, runs North 50 degrees East 64 poles to a dogwood among three pines.

For the blue line:

Beginning at a red oak, runs South 33 West 64 poles to a dogwood among three pines.

And for the actual plat or visual representation of the land survey, nomenclature for the above would read:

(Red)  North 50 East 64                (Blue)  South 33 West 64

Hopefully, you have followed thus far, and to test your understanding, let’s look again at the 1817 survey for Jesse Green’s 200 acres, as is shown above. Note from the survey that the first line (running from the rectangular inside corner) runs north 36 chains. See it? Also, note that the North-South axis is oriented horizontally. The next line runs a short distance along the river before heading due South 66 chains. At that point, a line runs South 60 West 40 chains. Does anything look wrong with that line? Taking a quick look at the compass and thinking about what 60 degrees west of due south should look like, the survey plat above appears to be different …in error. The angle drawn on the plat is closer to 30 degrees, while the description says it should be 60 degrees.  I believe the surveyor’s mind was oriented vertically on the paper while the plat was instead oriented horizontally.

My belief is confirmed as the next line is defined as South 5 West 18 chains. A nomenclature typically not used, John Hough oriented the line five degrees south of the horizontal or East-West line instead of basing the line off of the North-South line. If following the standard customarily used, the metes and bounds should instead read South 85 West 18 chains.

If the above survey is redrawn properly oriented, the resulting plat looks different. Note to the right how the corrected line (red) runs in a more horizontal direction and how that results in the lifting of the northwest corner. What was first seen as a rectangular starting point is now an acute angle. Also, note that the adjoining land on the river is described as “Elizabeth Green’s mill tract.”

I now have enough information to incorporate additional sleuthing skills. Most importantly, I can look at adjoining tracts to see if metes and bounds properly relate to my changes to the 1817 survey.

From the present-day Union County GIS map, Jesse Green’s 1817 grant plat is locatable below within the myriad of lines near and downstream of Love Mill Road, where the land’s old boundaries correspond somewhat with today’s property lines. However, much time has passed, and today’s property lines must not be seen as perfectly accurate concerning the old plat though they can be very helpful in narrowing down the search for where people once lived and worked.

Using Google to zoom further on an aerial view of the site, tree lines, and other landmarks related to the lay of the land can be used in one’s search. In this case, Elizabeth Green’s mill tract is located in a bend where I can imagine the family damming the water within a narrow passing between an island and the bank of the river. Drilling even deeper into the image (below), one may imagine the exact location of an old mill dam and where best to look for remnants of it today. And for those interested, note that the nearby road is called Love Mill Road because Charles C. Love once operated yet another mill situated a short distance west of the bridge on the Stanly County side of the river.

Beyond identifying Jesse Green’s granted land and the mill tract once owned by his mother, Elizabeth, the location above allows me to begin putting back together some of the adjoining ownership.  Though the following may not be perfectly accurate, I believe it should be useful in understanding the early Green family and their start in Anson County. Looking at the image below, Weatherford Branch enters Rocky River on the extreme western edge of the map while Grassy Creek can be seen entering the river to the east.  See them?  Shaded pink, Peter May received a grant of land east of Weatherford along the present-day Love Mill Road. Notice how nicely that piece of land mates to Jesse Green’s yellow shaded tract. And joining Jesse’s land on the long North-South line to the east, his mother Elizabeth received the red shaded tract. And east of that land is Elizabeth Green’s grant for land which roughly reflects the big bend in Rocky River.

Of interest and remembering me writing about how errors live long after their incidence? –let’s take a deeper look at Nathan Green’s land. Shaded blue, that tract joins Jesse Green’s land and the questionable line that I believe was measured correctly, though drawn on plat incorrectly.  Note that Nathan’s grant survey calls out a line as South 60 West 40 chains, which reflects the corrected angle.  The land’s southeastern line is also defined in the grant as running along Grassy Creek.  That fact is important in allowing me to position the land.

However, for some reason, Nathan’s blue shaded tract calls out the line joining Elizabeth’s red tract as North 70 West 33.5 chains. As for Elizabeth’s red shaded tract, the same line is called out as North 70 East 33.5 chains. Somehow influenced by the previously noted error, the length and degree of the lines are the same though one is said to run northeast while the other southeast.   A simple mistake, I wonder about impact and how the remaining line on Nathan’s tract should be interpreted. The answer will be known upon my learning how the adjoining owners called out their land holdings.  Ugh ….but for now let’s no go any further with that matter.  Instead, while in the neighborhood, let’s take a look at other lands owned by the Green family.

Looking upstream, beyond Elizabeth’ Green’s land and beyond Love Mill Road, the first stream entering Rocky River is Weatherford’s Branch.  And beyond Weatherford’s is the mouth of Crooked Creek which rises in nearby Mecklenburg County.  Spanning the two streams along the river are two adjoining tracts issued to John and Leonard Green (see below).  That land later passed through Peter Hagler who I believe operated a mill on the land, maybe originating with the Green family.

Now looking downstream in the opposite direction, remember Nathan and his mother Elizabeth Green’s land ended in the vicinity of Grassy Creek as has already been shown.  Bordering Grassy Creek, Leonard Green, son of Gideon and Elizabeth received a grant for land along the river (reddish brown). To the east of that land, John Culpepper deeded land to Jacob Green in 1778 (pink).  Note that this Jacob is a brother or other relation to Gideon as his son of same name was born later. So, here we have members of the earlier family acquiring land very close to each other.  Later acquisitions in the area include two more tracts by Jacob Green, though I’ve not yet established the relationship (blue and green).  In the middle of it all is Jonathan Austin’s grant who later acquired Leonard Green’s River tract.

There are other pieces of land which I have yet to resolve.  For now, the following gives a glimpse at additional Green family lands west of Grassy Branch. More later…




Just as curiosity and the search for new “stuff” are never-ending, so are new findings and their implications on the story being written. From a recent Google Search:

ANDREW AND DAVID COLLINS. I am looking for info on David Collins who died in Stewart Co sometime after 1813 when he filed a power of attorney with William Skiles on the estate of his brother Bennett Collins in Bertie CO NC. Andrew Collins married Mary/Polly Barnes I believe is his son. I am looking for a death date for David and a name for a possible second wife. His first wife was Annis Collins from deeds in Bertie CO. NC. They left Bertie about 1806/07. David sold a slave in 1807 to Parry Humphrey in Montgomery County TN. They may have been in Humphrey CO for a while too. Andrew Collins is the one in the 1850 census. Can anyone help. Look for possible estate papers for David in Stewart Co.
Submitted on Wed Sep 23 22:23:25 CDT 2009

Found in an old online Stewart County Tennessee query page, the preceding represents another chapter in the story of Michael Thomas, who lived and died in Bertie County, North Carolina. The son of Joseph Thomas (II), who died circa 1758, Michael Thomas named his wife Anney in his 1766 last will and testament. Looking at deeds and the related loose estate papers, the name of Michael’s widow changes in time from Annis Thomas to Annis Collins.

Mar 1767, Bertie – ordered that Annie Thomas Exx of Michael Thomas sell the perishable part of the estate of the said Michael.

Feb 1776, Bertie – Ordered that David Standly, Peter Clifton, Zedekiah Stone and Watkin William Wynns and John Watson or any three of them lay off the third part of the real estate of Michael Thomas deceased for the use of his widow and relict Annis Collins and that they make return of their proceedings therein to next court

David Collins is appointed guardian of Anney and Michael’s daughter Judeth and then in 1786, David Collins and wife Anney sell their land on Beaver Dam Swam which is located northeast of the Cashie Swamp. At that point the trail runs dry for me here in North Carolina. However, “Todd” in Tennessee clearly has more to offer as indicated above.

It is known David Collins is the son of Joseph Collins and Rachel Bunch, with Rachel being the daughter of Henry Bunch, who happens to be mixed-race.

As for David Collins’s uncle, Jeremiah Bunch, he is widely remembered for his house-building skills. Now relocated a mile through Bertie County peanut fields from its original location, the 1700s Jeremiah Bunch homeplace once stood across the road from the homeplace of Michael Thomas’ brother, Josiah Thomas. Nearby, if not adjoining to the north are the lands once owned by Michael Thomas, who served as Josiah’s guardian following their father’s passing. And for David Collins’ father,  Joseph Collins, part of his land purchased from the Thomas family is situated across the Cashie River to the east.

Looking back to the Stewart County  USgenweb post from 2009, “Todd” must surely have stories he could tell concerning his possible mixed-race heritage. Seeking to make contact, which has not yet taken place, I was able to glean much from the outdated email address Todd used in his inquiry. It turns out that in 2013 Todd Beckham and Marilyn Cheney co-produced an award-winning short film titled The Melungeons. Directed by Ian Cheney, the film is found on the Wicked Delicate Films site where it can be rented or purchased at a reasonable cost.  Furthermore, the following is a link to the trailer for The Melungeons:

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/65063607″>The Melungeons</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/wickedelicate”>Wicked Delicate Films</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Too often we bind ourselves to the task of building “trees” while stories often hidden in the background offer a much more meaningful narrative – such as that told on film by Todd Beckham. I wonder how the learning process impacted Todd’s understanding and appreciation of his oh-so “typical” American family?


I recently shared a PowerPoint presentation with the Stanly County Genealogical Society on finding the intersection of McCulloch’s four great tracts. The location of a particular land grant used to make my point happened to be the ancestral homeplace of a fellow attending from his residence in Texas.

The talk reminded me that Zoom is a great new addition to genealogy as it draws together far-flung blood-kin and other folks like myself who share interests in a great many subjects, including specifics concerning counties where collective families once lived. We can now mix it up face-to-face. From the discussion and carrying this fellow researcher’s lineage one generation beyond his Herrin ancestor who lived at a location shown in my presentation, I realized how many families in Stanly County are rooted earlier in the region surrounding Wake County …the place where I now call home.

Background. This post centers on a 1799 petition signed by residents of Montgomery, now Stanly County, NC. The signees geographically represent a community in what is now northwest Stanly County. For me, I am curiously drawn to the realization that many of the signers were earlier found in Wake, Chatham, and Orange Counties when families were crossing the area in their slow-moving migration south and west.

Now part of Durham County, as seen in the 1871 Nichols & Gorman map of Wake County, Township No. 7 was once home to numerous families ending up in Stanly County. Crabtree Creek, which appears on the eastern extent of the map (right), flows east across Wake County before joining the Neuse River near the town of Knightdale. The headwaters of Crabtree Creek are Brier Creek (yellow) and Stirrup Iron Creek (green), whose streams rise in the more recently developed land between Research Triangle Park and Falls Lake. Further west, beyond Crabtree Creek and a pronounced geological dividing ridge, the waters of Kit Creek (pink) meet up with Northeast Creek (blue) before making their way to the mighty Cape Fear River in Chatham County. It amazes me that Kit and Stirrup Iron Creek are only a mile apart in old Wake County, and yet, their waters are separated by more than a hundred miles of coastline upon reaching the Atlantic Ocean. It’s in this mapped area, near Morrisville, where much in this post is rooted.

However, I cannot rightfully confine ALL the beginnings I will discuss within the small area outlined in the previous paragraph. Some migrated through northern tier counties or even directly from Virginia, while others moved about, maybe initially arriving at the Upper Neuse River in their spread west from places like Bertie, Edgecombe, and Franklin Counties. And for some reason I do not yet understand, an evolving trifecta of sorts introduced a packing of settlers to a third location, along Wake county’s southern border into Chatham County. The waters of White Oak and Buckhorn Creeks were most enticing in that system, which emptied into the Cape Fear. And as I learned from a friend, the town of Holly Springs in that area does not owe its name to a silly tree; instead, the community is clearly named for the Holland family, whom I will brief in this post. One studying family passing through these places must look beyond any mindset built on locating their family homeplace to one specific county. The following offers bits of thought on families who came through the region who later signed the 1799 petition in Montgomery County. Note that these are not my families; my understanding of their genealogies may be written in error.

The Herrin Family. Some online say that Hezekiah in Stanly County is the son of Alexander Herrin found earlier in Chatham County. I believe Hezekiah Herrin’s father is Edward, who initially is found in Wake County. Once again, I’ve got to be careful not to overemphasize the importance of one county over the other as it appears the family lived near the Wake and Chatham County line, which area was all part of Orange County before 1771.

In 1780 Edward was issued 200 acres (313, Wake) on Little Beaver Creek, which rises in the present-day community of New Hill (in southwest Wake County) before flowing west to Jordan Lake in Chatham County. The surveyor’s order states that Edward’s land was located “on both sides of Little Beaver Creek above Anthony Holland’s Path.” Furthermore, located a few tracts south, my Y-DNA cousin, Joseph Thomas, received 550 acres on Little White Oak Creek, “including improvements made by Reuben Wise – the plantation wheron Anthony Holland now lives.”

Two years later, in 1782, Edward Herrin was found ten miles to the north, where he received 150 acres (784, Wake) on Kit Creek near present-day Morrisville. Edward’s granted land adjoined Moses Herron’s, with Edward Herron Junior and Owen Herron serving as survey chain carriers. Ultimately, the Herrin family coalesced briefly to the north on the waters of Marks and branches of Kit Creek along the line between Wake and the extreme northeast corner of Chatham County. And then, in 1788, loose estate papers in neighboring Chatham County give notice of Edward Herrin’s Death:

Moving West. Edward Herrin [Jr.], son of the deceased above, received in 1799 a land grant in now Stanly County (1214, Montgomery) on the Bee Branch of Pole Bridge Creek. Younger Waldrop and Thomas Motley served as chain carriers. Edward also entered a 200-acre tract though the grant was never issued as signified by the file number beginning with a zero (05, Montgomery). Younger Waldrope and Edward’s brother Owen Herrin served as chain carriers for that survey. In Wake County, Owen Waldrop served likewise, which leads one to surmise that following the Death of Edward Herrin Senior in Chatham County, his sons Owen and Edward Jr moved west to Montgomery County.

They signed a petition. Initially of unforeseen importance for those arriving in Montgomery County, back in the vicinity of southern Wake County and located but a short distance south of Edward Herrin Sr’s granted land on Little Beaver Creek, the town of Haywood was founded with visions of becoming a major inland seaport in addition to being both North Carolina’s permanent seat of government as well as the home of the University of North Carolina. Located just southwest of the Chatham County line where today US Hwy 1 passes over the fork of the Haw and Deep Rivers, the town of Haywood was initiated by our state’s constitution though both measures failed by a vote of one with Chapel Hill becoming the home of UNC and Raleigh, our state’s capital. In this reality, the Revolutionary War caused a tremendous headache as much-needed funding to build and operate the University in Chapel Hill had been drained.

When things go wrong in a community, concerned people gather to air their complaints through written petitions. That very thing happened in 1799, in what is now Stanly County, after the state confiscated lands once owned by opposing revolutionary Tories to fund UNC. Much of Montgomery County happened to be settled from an early Tory business venture. Though the idea was good in principle, a major problem arose as much of the ill-fated lands had already been broken up by conveyances to those arriving in Montgomery from Wake & c. and by way of earlier arrivals. Imagine if it were you who settled on land once owned by Tories only to have a state bureaucrat tell you it was no longer yours and you must be gone:

“About three years ago, Adley Osborn, attorney for the Trustees of the University, intimated to us, that our improved Plantations and all vacant land lying in Great Tract No. 6 first granted to Murry and Crimble, and escheated, were given as a Donation to the University & wanted to compromise with us for it. But we been entirely uninformed of any thing, concerning this matter, and thinking ourselves safe enough by our state, grants, refused firmly to enter into any compromise and ever since we been let alone, till now lately said Attorney Osborn attempted the second claim for our lands by a threatening advertisement to which we are unwilling to agree.”

The aforementioned 100,000-acre Great Tract # 6 was broken down into eight subsections as appears below:

That’s a huge chunk of real estate and much impacted by our new government’s scheme to build a college were the many who had recently settled in the remote reaches of Montgomery County …coincidentally being people having removed from the area where the construction of UNC was initially proposed! The signature list below of “fellow citizens” is from the 1799 petition, and concerning its importance, I encourage folks to read my earlier article, UNC – The Compromise for Bear Creek.

Believing the 1799 petition to be a good starting point, this post, broken down sub-sectionally by surname, offers random thoughts on some of the settlers living in northwest Stanly County. Note that the work is incomplete, a concern I’d love to hear from families not included. The families further represent those who gathered to formulate a petition after being contacted by the state’s attorney to clear land titles before granting the homesteads of its citizenry anew.

The Harwood/Harward Family. Penned in 1769 Edgecombe County, Joseph Harwood named in his last will and testament an enslaved person named Jenny whom he bequeathed to grandson Howell Harwood who was mentioned among stipulations concerning other grandsons. This elder Joseph Harwood also mentioned his sons Absalom and Joseph [Junior] Harwood:

Item I Bequeath to my Grandson Howell Harwood My Negroe Wench Jenny But is not to have possession of her before his father’s Death and if he should Die before his father I will her to my grandson Jesse Harwood.

Reeling forward more than a hundred years to the 1870 Stanly County mortality census, a person named Howell Harwood is enumerated as being 103 years old at the time of his Sep 1869 death. It’s easy to suppose this Howell Harwood to be the same as he who is mentioned in the 1769 will; however, the extreme age is in no way supported by earlier census data (1800-1860) though a person of the same name appears as born a little later, in the 1780s. It appears Howell Harwood mentioned in the will is the son of Joseph Harwood [Jr.] though the given name was also used in the family of the said Joseph (Jr.’s) brother Absalom.

Absalom Harwood sold his Edgecombe County holdings (D-333, Edgecombe) in 1770 as did his brother Joseph [Jr.] (D-275, Edgecombe). Online genealogies show that Joseph Harwood [Jr] died ca. 1784 though a quick look into his real-estate title history has not revealed any supporting details. However, in 1778, Joseph’s brother Absalom Harwood entered a 600-acre grant for land (275, Chatham) on the Wake/Chatham County line. Then, a year later, Absalom entered an additional 650 acres (657, Wake) under “Harrod.” Clearly located nearby and crossing the county line, this second tract west of present-day Morrisville was situated on Indian Branch of Newhope Creek, which adjoined the land of “William Harrod.”

Also occurring in 1778, the same year Absalom entered land crossing the Wake and Chatham County line, Howell Harrod entered 282 nearby acres (1754, Orange) on the waters of Newhope Creek. Some show that Howell died locally though I believe he later moved west across the Yadkin River to Montgomery County, North Carolina, with his Uncle Absalom Harwood. There, both Absalom and Howell Harwood signed the 1799 petition concerning lands sought after for the benefit of UNC. I believe Howell eventually took off for Tennessee as he appears records there acquiring land in Stewart County. Supporting this idea, Howell’s entry in the entry book is close to others known to be rooted earlier in Montgomery County, North Carolina.

The Herrin Family. Edward Herrin (shaded purple) signed the 1799 petition, as did Anthony Holland, whose affirmation appears seven signatures ahead of Edward. See them? If nothing else, the signatures prove that all the signers were settled in the same impacted area within the county as of 1799. Furthermore, I believe the signature for Anthony Holland may represent the same person who lived earlier on land in Wake County, granted to Joseph Thomas in 1780. This Anthony is the person whose name was used for the path that ran below Edward Herrin’s land. Is this also the same Anthony Holland whose history goes back to Edgecombe and earlier to Bertie/Chowan Counties as discussed in my earlier posts? I think so, and likewise, for most who signed the document above, I believe their exact identities have not easily transferred across time and space during their movement west from Edgecombe and other points to the east.

We can easily imagine kinship and make declarations, though proving specific family relations becomes an arduous task fraught with risks of genetic conflation. And similarly, as for Edward Herrin, my opportunity to meet his living descendant from Texas via Zoom awakened in me the need for better understanding as we trace this community’s movement across the Yadkin into old Montgomery County.

The Wardrobe/Waldrop and Almond Families. Phonetically the oddest of signatures in the 1799 petition is that of Younger Wardrobe (Waldrop) who appears in Montgomery County in 1790 and 1800. However, in ca. 1790, Younger was also in Wake County, where he is identified in estate documentation as purchasing from his deceased father’s estate. The son of James Waldrop, Younger’s family lived along Lick Branch and Brier Creek within the Northeast Creek watershed. As already discussed, Northeast Creek, a branch of Newhope Creek, rises west of the present-day Durham/Wake County line before emptying into Jordan Lake in Chatham County.

Earlier, in 1780, James Wardrope’s survey for 200 acres (74, Wake) on Lick Branch in then Wake County mentions neighbors Richard and Nathan Almond, who also moved west as they appear in the 1799 Montgomery County petition. There is no recorded record of Younger Wardrop receiving granted land in Montgomery County, and any record of deeded land by Younger would have been destroyed in 1843 when arsonist Elijah Spencer burned the Montgomery Courthouse: “the loss of all the wills, deeds, dockets, bonds, and settlements of estates, etc., must be a source of incalculable and irreparable evil!” Despite the significant loss of documentation, two post-Montgomery Stanly County deeds mention Younger Wardrobe in the context of a stream where he likely lived:

    1. Peter Cauble to John J. Cauble, (Deed 1-190, Stanly). Situated in the fork of two creeks, survey metes and bounds begin on the northeast corner of this tract (shaded yellow) at the red star on bank of Big Bear Creek. The survey’s first line runs northwest to the mouth of Big Running Creek and then up that creek “to the mouth of Younger Hardroup’s Spring Branch then up the various courses of said Branch about 4 chains” or 264 feet which is less than the length of a football field.
    2. Eli R. Herrin to M. F. Yorke, (21-364, Stanly), being 225 acres per deed of trust involving A. G. Freeman. Situated west of Big Bear Creek, this tract nicely abuts the abovementioned land. The northern end of this land (pink) adjoined Rowland lands while the southern end joined lands belonging to ——— Motley and John Eudy Jr.

The above Peter Cauble is the son of petition signee Christian Coble who received nearby granted land (1043, Montgomery) in 1797. Situated a few miles to the east, the order to survey describes the land as “containing 100 acres on Bigg Bear Creek of both sides including the improvement that formerly belonged to Barton Daniel at which the same is my property purch’d of Paul Daniel.” I think this land was near the early home of Solomon Burris, who lived for a while northeast of present-day Pleasant Grove Baptist Church on Ramsey Branch. Furthermore, adjoining the lands of Christopher Coble happens to be petition signee Ambrose Honeycutt whose failed land entry (01, Montgomery) was also situated on Ramsey’s Branch of Bear Creek.

Back to Younger Wardrobe, the stream bearing his name provides an excellent memory though I wanted more. I was seeking to understand the early community better while platting land grants and deeds in the area; original ownership for the small waterway was revealed through happenchance alone. Platting tracts A, B, and C (below) and overlaying them atop the snazzy new Stanly County GIS map offered a reverse perspective from one of tracing today’s record back in time. The three deeded tracts, as seen below, are:

    1. (9-489 Stanly) George Blackwelder to J. F. Herrin.
    2. (1-259, Stanly) Hezekiah Herron to Nathan T. Starnes
    3. (26-327, Stanly) Jonah M. Lambert to E. M Hatley …which land adjoined the Fayetteville Road to the south.

At the same time, I also digitally puzzled together four land grant surveys (in black below) whose originals are housed at the State Archives of North Carolina. Only in visually seeing the images side-by-side was I able to realize that the deeded plats fit like a glove against Thomas Motley’s 225-acre grant (1583, Montgomery). More importantly, the process enabled me to reference and locate many other tracts, as the ancient metes and bounds are perfectly visible today on GIS.

So, I love nothing more than sharing process and think the above is really cool, though where is Younger Wardrobe? Note that the survey for Thomas Motley’s 400-acre tract (1045, Montgomery) (above) indicates the land includes “Younger Wardrobe’s improvement.” And nested beside the 400-acre tract, Thomas’ 300-acre tract (1149, Montgomery) is said in its survey to join Younger Wardrobe’s land in an area within the shaded diamond-shaped section of the 400-acre tract. See it? At some point, Younger owned or lived on a piece of Thomas Motley’s land which, when overlaid atop the GIS map, happens to be the same piece of land whereupon Waldrop’s Branch flows in a much differently shaped tract today. I love it when land is proven across time!

Younger Waldrop did not remain long in old Montgomery County as he was in Kentucky by 1806, where he applied for a  revolutionary war pension in Hart County.

The Daniel Family. A mystery I’d like to resolve; how does the Daniel family in early Montgomery County connect to those living on the Cape Fear in Chatham County? In 1793, my ancestor, Solomon Burris, received a grant for 200 acres on Ramsey’s Branch on “the waters of Big Bear Creek …including Barton Daniels’ Improvement.” Some histories online state that Barton’s full name is “Barton Peter Daniel” though available documentation leaves one thinking this family’s history may be influenced by genetic conflation.

Living near Ramsey Branch, on the next stream to the west, Paul Daniel received a land grant for 130 acres (513, Montgomery) on Stony Run, at which time the chain carriers were Edward Almond and Luke Rigsby. And then, in 1798, Paul Daniel received another 100 acres (1068, Montgomery) upstream on “both sides of Big Bear Creek including the plantation I now live on as I purchased of Nathan Almond.” Chain carriers for this grant were William Ramsey and Drury Rigsby.

Names mentioned in grants offer an essential sense of community, and in this case, I believe Paul and Barton Daniel should be seen as closely related. In proof of my point, rather than found in documentation recorded under the name of Daniel, remember above that Christopher Coble’s grant mentioned an “improvement that formerly belonged to Barton Daniel at which the same is my property purch’d of Paul Daniel.” It appears the land originally belonged to Barton Daniel before passing through Paul Daniel and being later sold to Christopher Daniel, who received the land anew in the form of a state land grant. Not only were these people friends, but the wording also gives the strongest of hints that Paul and Barton are likely kin.

Upon moving to western North Carolina with others, Charles Cagle deeded land (deed 12-498, Buncombe) in 1819 to Job Self on the fork of Mills River, where Francis Self now lives. Crazy cool, all those above once lived in Montgomery where I believe their families maternally crossed paths in ways we do not fully realize …and note that the deed was witnessed by William Daniel, who the family believes to be the son of Paul Daniel. Histories online state that William Daniel married Job Self’s daughter Sarah before relocating to Georgia.

Looking at census records, both Paul and Barton Daniel are enumerated in the 1784-1787 Montgomery County list. However, in 1790, Paul disappeared from Montgomery County with only Barton remaining. What happened to Paul and yet, in neighboring Rowan County a person named Paul Daniel suddenly appears in 1790 alongside Peter Daniel and others of the same surname:

Is Paul Daniel in Rowan the same as he who was earlier living in Montgomery? If not, what happened to Paul, and who are the others per the Rowan County census? I am trying my best to connect the Daniel clan in Montgomery County to Isham, Jesse, and Littleton Daniel, who I know lived upon the waters of Shattuck’s Creek along the Cape Fear River in Chatham, …though the given names of Sion and Randal above are found more distantly in Halifax County. Furthermore, mentioning William Ramsey alongside the Daniel men in Montgomery County makes me wonder if William somehow ties back to Ambrose Ramsey, who operated a Chatham County mill famously crossed by Lord Cornwallis during his retreat to Wilmington. To that end, some say that William Ramsey, also found in Buncombe County, is indeed the son of Ambrose. If that is true, he must also be the same William Ramsey whose name was given to a stream my ancestor lived on in Montgomery County. Further yet, and as will be shown, I believe the Rigsby men who served as chain carriers in Montgomery also harken back to Chatham County but for now, let’s take a closer look at the Daniel family in Rowan County.

Per the marriage bond, Paul Daniel married Elizabeth Smith in 1790 in Rowan County. Then, in 1795, William Smith of Rowan County wrote his last will and testament mentioning “my three daughters Sarah wife of Joseph Moore, Kiziah wife of Stephen Orsborn, and Elizabeth wife of Paul Daniel.” Not only do I see Paul and his widow Elizabeth, but back in Chatham County, a person named Stephen Osborne lived on Shattock’s Creek beside the family of Littleton Daniel. I now wonder if I am seeing some connection to those in Rowan.

Also enumerated in Rowan is Peter Daniel in 1790, who died soon after as his 1791 last will and testament probated in Rowan County mentions wife Winniford and all his children. However, he bequeaths explicitly to loving son Paul “forty-three acres of land that was lately surveyed for Jno. Henkle potter being to the No. west of my lot of land joining William Scoles line and Moses Perkins.”

Making it difficult for me to immediately jump to these people as being the same family living in Montgomery County, Peter’s land in old Rowan County is situated on the Brushy Fork within the historically significant Abbot’s Creek Baptist Settlement located some 45 miles away from the Daniel land in old Montgomery County. This other land is situated north of present-day Lexington, North Carolina. About that land, earlier, in 1787, Paul’s father, Peter Daniel, purchased the above land on Brushy Fork (deed 11-752, Rowan) from Luke White, with Paul Daniel witnessing the transaction. Coincidentally, Luke White is believed to go back to early Bertie County, where records connect the White family to my Solomon Burris family beginnings. Note that this Peter’s son Paul Daniel later sold his inheritance (14-201, Rowan) in 1795, when the transaction was witnessed by West and Sion Daniel, which happen to be other names mentioned in period Halifax County deeds.

Back to Montgomery County and added to the mix is Benjamin Woodson Daniel, who received several grants on Long Creek, which Big Bear Creek joins downstream nearer to Rocky River. From his revolutionary war pension request, Benjamin W. Daniel stated he was born in Wake County and, after the War ended:

“he was living in Rowan County North Carolina, from there I moved to Rutherford County in the state of Tennessee and after a 12 months residence and there I moved to where I now live in the Stewart County in the State of Tennessee where I have lived 13 or 14 year.”

Indeed, Benjamin W. Daniel lived in Rowan as he was granted land (3921, Rowan) at Bald Mountain on the Yadkin River near the present-day crossroads community called Newsome.

Concerning the Daniel family, I ask folks to take my writing as if a grain of salt because cyphering beyond mere mentions of possibility requires much more effort than can be offered in this brief overview. But for now, know that ties, potential ties, or coincidences are not confined to Piedmont, NC.   It is known from his revolutionary war pension request that Benjamin Woodson Daniel eventually moved to Stewart County, Tennessee where his life record continues to tell its story. Stewart happened to be in the Military region set aside for Revolutionary War land grant bounties to award soldiers with land in compensation for their services during the revolution. Also found in early Stewart County are Sion, David, William, “Barton” and others of the Daniel surname. As for Rowan County Peter’s son Paul, he may have ended up in Morgan County, Tennessee, while I believe less is known of the older Paul who acquired land in Montgomery County …unless he is the son of said Peter. Paul’s whereabouts remain unknown to me though his son William ended up in Georgia.

Of importance to me at this point are the often-unsung stories of chain carriers, including those identified in Paul Daniel’s land grants in Montgomery County. Sometimes documented scantily in a location, one must also consider hints hidden in the record of neighbors and acquaintances. As for William Ramsey, he may be kin to Ambrose Ramsey, who operated a mill on the Deep River in eastern Chatham County. And, as for Drury Rigsby, who served as chain carrier for the grant issued to Paul Daniel, I believe he is likely the same person who requested a revolutionary war pension in Kentucky. When asked where he was born and where he lived following the War, Drury Rigsby responded:

“I was born in Fauquier County on the Rappahannock River Virginia on the 15th day of January 1745.” I lived “in Rowan County North Carolina and also in Chatham County North Carolina, I moved from Chatham to Wilkes County North Carolina and from that County, to this (Lawrence Kentucky) where I now reside.”

With never a mention of Montgomery County, Drury spoke of Rowan which county line was but a few miles north of where he held the chains for Paul Daniel’s survey. Drury was not alone in Montgomery County as his likely brothers Luke and Thomas Rigsby also served as chain carriers for grants issued to others who once lived in Chatham, Wake, and Orange Counties. Furthermore, Drury Rigsby is not readily found in Wilkes County in western North Carolina as indicated in his Revolutionary War claim though his brother Thomas is enumerated in the 1800 Buncombe County census where he received a land grant (365, Buncombe) in which the chain carrier was none other than Richard Almond who had likely been his neighbor in Wake and Montgomery Counties. It appears that Thomas Rigsby eventually made it to Wilkes County by 1820.

The Motley and Maynard Families. Thomas Motley married Keziah Barbee on 28 Jun 1784 in Wake County. One year following the marriage, Thomas Motley purchased from Richard Almond (deed F-28, Wake) a 100-acre portion of granted land (686, Wake) situated on the east side of Gibson Creek, a branch of Northeast Creek. This tract is in a portion of Wake that became Durham County near Kitt and Stirrup Iron Creeks. Thomas Motley and his family moved to Montgomery County, where his sizeable acreage was on the waters of Big Running and Pole Bridge Creeks near the present-day Cabarrus County line. Also making their way to Montgomery County, the family of John Barbee settled to the south, on Meadow Creek near the present-day town of Locust. Probated in 1843 Stanly County, Thomas Motley’s last will and testament mentions “my nephew John Barbee and Catherine his wife.”


Looking again at the 1799 petition of citizens in Montgomery County, one will see the signature of John Maynard, who I believe to be the son of William Maynard of Wake County. In 1782 William Maynard received a grant for 264 acres (724, Wake) on Kills [Kit] Creek adjoining the lands of Moses Herron [Herrin], with the survey chain carriers being none other than George Waldrope and John Barby [Barbee].

As for John Maynard, he received a land grant for 126 acres (1423, Montgomery) “joining his own, Thomas Motley, and Udy’s.” The granted land in Montgomery County was surveyed in 1801, at which time Younger “Wardrupt” served as chain carrier. John and a person named Thomas Maynard appear in the 1800 Montgomery County census, and then all goes quiet. However, a close look at the 1799 petitioners reveals signer Draper Burgess whose father, Achelly [Akel] Burgess, married second on 8 Apr 1779 to Sarah Mainer in Wake County. Sarah Mainer is John Maynard’s sister.  Akel Burgess received a land grant (709, Wake) for 200 acres on Sorrell’s Branch “including the meeting house.” That tract adjoined Nathan Almond’s land with John Motley serving as chain carrier for the survey.

The Holland Family. Issued in 1787, Anthony Holland’s 200-acre Montgomery County grant should be easy to locate as, at the time, it encompassed both sides of Running Creek (branch of Bear Creek) and the Cross Creek Road (see right). However, roads have changed, and I have yet to resolve the exact location of this intersection per the 1787 land grant document. Furthermore, the written order was for 100 acres “on both sides of the Cross Creek Road” while the survey referenced “the Salisbury Road.” I believe this land may be located at the point where present-day Mission Church Road crosses Big Running Creek. If so, present-day Mission Church Road and the ancient Cross Creek Road may have merged with Barrier Store Road before heading west towards Mt. Pleasant. Chain carriers for this grant were Anthony’s believed son Sion Holland and previously mentioned Thomas Rigsby. As for Sion Holland, he acquired numerous tracts abutting the Mecklenburg/Cabarrus County line on Running Creek and Pole Bridge Branch. Sion Holland also received a small grant in now Cabarrus, along the east side of Meadow Creek. In December 1811 Anthony Holland and wife Gracey were received into Meadow Creek Baptist Church by letter, possibly transferring from Bear Creek Baptist which church was closer to where they lived.

From the petition, a signature for Richard Holland appears beside that of Anthony Holland, indicating he may be a son. Believing Anthony to be the brother of James, who died in Wake, their father would then be Richard Holland, who died in the 1760s Edgecombe County. If true, the given name of Anthony’s son Richard makes sense.

The Green Family. Leonard and Richard Green, and James and Anthony Holland served the newly formed Wake County per a court road work order in 1772. Likely named for Leonard’s father, I believe Richard is Leonard Green’s oldest son …or was Richard his baby brother? Leonard Green never received a grant for land in Wake County though mentions in grant documentation for others provide valuable insight. For instance, a grant issued to Daniel Oaks (244-Wake) in 1780 calls out acreage as “joining the lower side of the land whereon Leonard Green Sen’r lately lived.” Daniel Oaks’ daughter Mary married John Thomas, son of my DNA cousin Joseph Thomas. From the wording alone, one may suppose Leonard either died or moved. Also occurring in 1780, Andrew Peddy received a nearby land grant (288, Wake) that was “purchased by the said Peddy of Leonard Green, including the plantation where Leonard Green Junr now lives.” This means that as of 1780, two people named Leonard Green were living in Wake County.

In 1779 Leonard Green purchased land in Mecklenburg, now Cabarrus, where Hwy 24-27 crosses Rocky River (deed 10-475, Mecklenburg). William Barker, also from earlier in Wake County, witnessed the transaction. Leonard didn’t hold on to the property for long because he and wife Ann sold the land a year later. That transaction was witnessed by William Haynes and Jacob Self who purchased land nearby. Then, in 1783, Jacob’s brother Phillip received a grant (115, Montgomery) on the forks of Island Creek in Montgomery County “including Job Self’s upper improvement.” The chain carrier was none other than Leonard Green. In the same year “Lennard” Green also served as chain carrier for a nearby grant issued to Job Self (134, Montgomery) legally described as “including Self’s improvement.”

In 1779, the same year Leonard Green purchased his land in now Cabarrus County, Henry Kent of earlier in Wake County bought nearby property upon which was built Haynes Baptist church. Was this the same Leonard Green Senior as he who, a year later, was identified back in Wake as no longer living near Daniel Oaks? I think so. Looking back in time, Henry Kent also received a land grant in 1763 Edgecombe County which land he later sold to Thomas Holland, who happened likely to be the brother of Anthony Holland.

Richard Green, likely the son of Leonard, received two land grants in Wake County, with Henry Kent serving as chain carrier. In 1786 Richard (R) Green “of the County of Montgomery” sold his two tracts of land in Wake County to John Norris, for which Joseph Thomas witnessed the transactions. As for Leonard’s probable son Richard, who sold land in Wake County, he began acquiring land grants along Bear Creek beginning in 1783 Montgomery County. From this point, the Green family began moving westward, as did others. And, not to confuse the details, I believe another person named Richard Green settled in the eastern half of Montgomery County, the lands east of the Yadkin.

I must stop for now though many others should be mentioned in connection to beginnings in Wake County’s surrounding area.  I’ll save that for a later day and hope to hear from you concerning thoughts as this piece should be long and detailed, weaving the fabric clothing an important migration of people from the north.


Here it is the day after New Year’s and what a day of rebirth it was. Following weeks of rapidly changing weather punctuated by heavy rains and brutal bone-chilling cold, a much-welcomed warm spell beckoned us to venture outdoors. And more so than our love of landscape and for all we are blessed, I really enjoyed the time yesterday sitting by my wife in the flower beds as she gave her Breck’s patch of gladiolas their annual haircut. It seems we spoke about everything under the sun, from plans for the new year to our individual likes and dislikes concerning what and where to plant new flowers. Spring comes sooner than one may think and as for this day it was beautiful though much work is needed as many of our plants have been burned by the recent cold.

Surrounded by the skeletal forms of barren trees cloaked in winter dormancy, my thoughts turned to genealogy and the importance of framework. What if each tree I saw about us represented some distinctive family? In that possibility I am reminded of the value trees offer in terms of illustrating the nature of timing and its role in the calculation of distances between cousins. Living trees really are a great analogy for visualizing and expressing the continuum of nature and its sustaining flow from earth and trunk through outreaching limbs to each and every new leaf. I notice in nature that some trees may live in shadow and grow slowly or even fail to reach maturity. Others do fine though in time a limb here or there may be pruned by disease or the brutality of nature’s strong winds. Everything matters and in everything there is impact.

Sharing these thoughts with my wife, she acknowledged the idea of framework though pointed out with a smile how I loved to dig deeper, spending inordinate amounts of time defining each “leaf” of the family tree through the sort of stories often times omitted by others. She suggested that maybe my trees were more like Christmas trees. Yes, the Christmas tree may be known for its stereotypical framework though also important are the stories of each and every ornament. Some represent special times or places while others were handcrafted and shared with love from children now grown with trees of their own. Ornaments too are markers in time restoring Christmas memories otherwise lost in time. And going a step further, I realize the Bible is singularly a story with beginning and end though within its framework we are often drawn to passages as vividly important as is the whole. For me and the challenge I find in exploring genealogy, the development of “family tree” offers a necessary tool most-used in sharing our family stories.

Back to the workday in the flower bed, we noticed shoots already breaking ground below the cold-burned gladiola leaves. And beside the place where I sat to talk with my wife, a white chrysanthemum given to us years ago by my wife’s mother was bursting forth with buds awaiting warmer weather. Unlike the barren trees all about me, later this year the chrysanthemums will redefine themselves under profuse veils of daisy-like white flowers. Margaret would certainly be pleased hearing our conversation as we now have four such plants thanks to our efforts to honor the future of her gift through propagation.

Considering all things are possible, I ponder what a family history might look like if built on the framework of a Christmas Tree, or perhaps my mother-in-law’s gifted flower.  Would the story be the same and as for those interpreting it, would their experience be any different?  I don’t know, but just maybe I’ll give it a try and someday you can let me know what you think.



Grady Carr Greene

Genealogical narratives of our ancestors from early northeast North Carolina are as numerous as are the people writing them. I guess it’s now my turn to read the family tea leaves and in that, I am hopeful my digging has been both deep enough and compiled in such a way to rightfully tell the story.

Among the photographs given to me through the years is the one above of Grady Carr Greene (1896-1981) whose family were my mom’s neighbors on Love’s Chapel Road in Stanfield NC. My mom’s uncle, Grady married Rossie J. Love, who is my grandmother’s sister. From Grady Carr Greene looking back to his ancestral beginnings, I believe the genealogical ancestry may look something like Grady Carr Greene > Aaron Ephraim Greene > Tilmon Green > Leonard Green > Gideon Green > Leonard Green > Richard Green > Richard Green.

“From Records pertaining to the family of JOHN LANGSTON II of Nansemond Co, Va:

7/20/1736- Grant- John Langston 191 AC, Nansemond Co, Va, beginning @ ancient corner tree, N/S Summerton Swamp, ADJ His own, being surplus land found within bounds of 400 AC Patent to Richard Green, June 3rd, 1665, and sold to John Langston by Richard Green, son & heir of Richard Green.

Bertie Co, NC Deeds-Nov. 26, 1739 John Langston to Richard Green, Jr, 150 AC at a place called Sarum, near Rogers’ Pocosin.”

The above begins on Summerton Swamp in present-day Gates County situated some 20 miles or so west from Coropeake which community my Thomas family first called home upon arriving in the state. A region rich in indigenous culture, the families of Green and others spread a few creeks down from Summerton along the Chowan River to the historically significant place called Sarum. I imagine settlers naming the location just as back home in Wiltshire, earlier generations constructed the first iterations of Salisbury Cathedral upon a similarly named Roman site of yore. Maybe the naming of Sarum in Gates County was in some way a prophetic though respectful honoring of the local indigenous culture as it once was.

From Sarum School – Chowan Indians – Thomas Hoyle written by Roberta Estes, “there’s one Mr. Mashburn who keeps a school at Sarum on the fronteers of Virginia between the two Governments and neighboring upon 2 Indian Towns” (Colonial Record Vol. I, 858-9). Detailing what is known of early Indian schools in our state, Roberta further states that “Sarum was in all probability located at or near the “Ballard place,” about 8 miles Northwest of Gatesville at the head of “Sarum Creek.”

At this point I could easily delve deeply into the life of the aforementioned Richard Green though let’s cut a corner and not go there.  Instead, take a minute to look over the following as in 1742 Chowan County, Richard Green penned his last will and testament. Note the names for bodies of water are colored blue.

In the Name of God amen : September the thirteenth day of one thousand seven hundred and forty two I Richard Green of Chowan County being weak of Body but of Sound  mind and perfect memory praise be to Almighty God – form following first I commend my soul into the hands of Almighty God who gave it hoping though the meritorious Death and  ……. Christ to have full and free pardon of all my life and my boddy to the Earth to be decently buried at the discretion of my Executors hereafter named and as touching such temporal Estate as it hath pleased Almighty God to Besto upon me I Give and Dispose as followeth –

First, my will is that all my just debts and funeral charges be paid and discharged. Item, I Give and Bequeath to my son John Green twenty shillings to be raised out of my Estate. Item, I give and bequeath to my son Thomas Green part of the tract Mast Branch running out of the Licking Root Branch running up the Mast Branch to a Red oak standing by the side of a pond from there a strait corce to a pine a corner tree standing in the line yt divids between William Smith and my plantation then running up that line to a white oak a corner tree between William Smith and my own thence down the Licking Root Branch to the first station. Item, I give to him and his heirs forever out of the said tract more or less and bounded as followeth. Beginning on his Brother Thomas a line at a pine a corner tree and running thence to Thomas Sparkmans corner tree standing in or near the head of the Mire branch then down the said Mire Branch to the Cypress swamp, then up the said Cypress Swamp to a pine a corner tree of the said land I now live on then along that line to his brother Thomas to the first station. I Give to him and his heirs forever. Item, I give and Bequeath to my son Jacob Green my plantation that I now live on and all the land belonging to it that I have not before mentioned after his Mother decease. I give to him and his heirs forever. Item, I give and Bequeath to my son William Green a piece of land I have on the Sand Banks joining in the Cypress Swamp beginning on Robert Rogers line at a pine standing on the lower side of the Cypress Pond and running a straight corce to a pond called the Brigre pond to Robert Reddick corner tree joining on the said Cypress Swamp I give to him and his heirs forever. Also, I give and Bequeath to my son Jacob Green all the other part of the tract of land on the said bank joining on his brother William Green and to the River pocosin being all the said tract of land between them as it is mentioned I Give to them and their heirs forever. I also Give to my five sons Richard Green, William Green, Thomas Green, Leonard Green, Jacob Green my wife’s land for their own  —– I give to my son Jacob Green my Gun and one iron pot which he so fit to have. Item I Give to my son Jacob Green and my three daughters Elcey Green, and Catherine Green, and Mary Green my four feather beds and furniture belonging to them after their mother’s decease. Item I Give and Bequeath to my loving wife Elce Green All the Remainder part of my estate both with in doors and wt. out of what soever …..and Kind it be during her natural life and then to dispose amongst my children as she shall see fit and Lastly, I nominate and appoint my dear loving wife Elce Green to be the hole and sole  Executor of this my last will and testament  utterly revoking all other will or wills that hath been made by me heretofore Ratifying this to be my Last Will and Testament In Witness Whereof I have here unto set my hand and fixt my seal the day and year above written.

Signed Sealed in the presents of us,

William Whitfield
John (X) Sparkman                                                                  Richard (RG) Green

Penned in 1742, the above occurred six years following John Langston’s grant stating that the land originated as an even earlier 1665 patent to Richard Green. The land had somehow been sold to the said Langston “by Richard Green, son & heir of Richard Green.”

Situated in an area heavily seeded today with cotton and peanuts, Richard Green’s land per his 1742 last will and testament draws attention to legal bounds crossing the Licking Root Branch and Cypress Swamp. The water ways are clearly visible in the old USGS topographic map (below).  One sees Taylor Millpond which was built on the main run of Sarum Creek.  And hearkening back to the days of Sarum School, located to the east, one also sees Ballard’s Church and crossroads (shaded red). Richard Green’s lands likely included the green shaded area though his will mentions other lands including some joining the Chowan “river pocosin.”

Looking at Richard Green’s neighbors in this break-of-day community, in 1736, William Horn of Bertie sold land to Samuel Smith of the Upper Parrish of Nansemond “patented to the said W. Horn commonly called & known by the name of ‘the Banks of Italy.‘” How cool! …wouldn’t you love to walk that land? Furthermore, the acreage is described as bounding the Cypress Swamp along with the lands of John Denby and none other than Richard Green (W-306, Chowan). Also living in the community was Henry Holland who purchased land from John Vaughn in 1733. Granted to William Speight in 1719, that land was situated on the east side of the Chowan River along the River pocosin and adjoined that owned by “Bennett.” According to the deed, the land was “devised [from Speight] to the sd. Henry Holland, & by the sd. Henry Holland devised the part to Thos. Vaughn, & by the sd. Thos. Vaughn devised to his son John Vaughn as by his last will and testament will more at large appear, & now is by the sd. John Vaughn forever sold to the sd. Henry Holland.” Witnesses for this transaction include Henry Holland and James Holland.

And patented to Richard Holland on 1 Apr 1723, the said Holland sold the land in 1728 at which time it was described as joining the lands owned by John Green (B-100, Bertie).  The deed further described the land as “being in the province of No. Carolina in Bertie prec’t joyning upon the Chowan River known by the name of Nansend Indian Town.”

Looking now at a portion of Edward Mosely’s 1733 New and Correct Map of the Province of North Carolina, one can see the Nansemond Indian Town on the west side of the Chowan River. Also shown is Somerton Creek where William Speight lived to the south. And seeing the run of roadways, one can imagine the flow of traffic and what life was like in the various places where people settled.

A year following his father’s estate settlement, in Dec 1743, son Richard Green now “of Edgecombe District” sold his holdings (Deed A1-288 Chowan) to Elexander Carter. Then in Jan 1753, the deceased Richard Green Senior’s son Leonard Green also “of Edgecombe County” sold to his brother Thomas Green 30 acres (Deed H1 -151 Chowan), “which said land was given to the aforesaid Leonard Green by his father Richard Green in his last will and testament.” And like brothers Leonard and Richard, Richard Senior’s son William Green also made the move to Edgecombe as in Aug 1751 he too sold his holdings on Cypress Swamp to “John and Solomon Green both of Chowan County.”  That land joining William Smith, Robert Reddick, and William Langston was originally “granted by patent to Capt. John Alston bearing date the 12th day of July 1725.” It is believed John Green is Solomon’s father. Completing a circle of influence, in 1752 Solomon Green purchased land on Cypress Swamp from John Denby of Nansemond, Virginia …being the land originally “patented to William Horn Senior” as previously outlined.

Brother Thomas Green died soon after as estate papers were filed in 1756 Chowan County by “Sarah Green, administrator of Thomas Green, deceased.”  Brother Jacob Green also died young as ca. 1752 his brother John filed an inventory for the estate.  As for John Green, he remained in the area where he made his mark in Edenton as house carpenter and joiner. John was well-known within the elite of Edenton and his wife Elizabeth Green “signed the famous “Edenton Tea Party” resolution in 1774.”

Crossing over the Chowan River from where we began, families lived for a while in Bertie County which was formed in 1722 from Chowan County. And soon after, families continued their move west beyond the Roanoke River which was called Moratock by the Indigenous peoples. Those heading west settled in Edgecombe County which formed in 1741 from the western half of Bertie. However, though conveyances in Bertie County mention residences in the early “Edgecombe District,” some of the actual deeds are filed in Halifax County, yet another break-off forming from Edgecombe in 1758. Note that some of Richard Green’s children eventually moved beyond Edgecombe County, to Wake and further west to Montgomery and Mecklenburg Counties.

Almost like the nature of suburbs in today’s urbanization, new counties formed followed by citizens hungry for new land and a better existence. And somewhat lost within the evolution of our county-based system is the very real sense of community built on the movement of families like Green, Holland, Jones, Woodard, Pope, and Thomas as they spread west. It is in this complicated reality of constantly moving people through rapidly evolving jurisdictions where scenarios identifying specifics of various generations becomes muddled. And for the reader, especially important to me are the unproven possibilities my Thomas family came first from a particular Joseph Thomas in Bertie County or whether they represent another family who passed through Edgecombe County.  Both possibilities have merit and note that currently I have not been able to disprove either over the other. So, I’ll move forward with mentions of my Thomas dilemma, though my goal, for now, lies in understanding the extended movement of the greater community.

Enter Pope Family. Situated in now Halifax County on the “south side of Moratock [Roanoke] River and on the lower side of the Great Swamp,” in 1722, William Pope of Isle of Wight Virginia sold “ye half of the patent of land sold to me by George Smith to Henry Pope my father(A-162 Bertie). Henry then sold the land to his son John (B-107, Bertie) in 1726.  And Henry’s son Jacob Pope sold his nearby land in 1730 (C-223, Bertie). Situated in the same general vicinity on the south bank of the Moratock River, the previously mentioned Richard Holland purchased 250 acres from John Cotton (B-193, Bertie) in 1723.  Note that Richard married Mary Cotton, daughter of the said John and his wife Martha Cotton.

As seen below, Henry Horn, Isaac Ricks, and Joseph Thomas were appointed to divide the 19 Feb 1744 Edgecombe County estate of Jacob Pope Junr., deceased.  Note that Jacob Junior is the son of Jacob Pope Sr. and Jane Braswell.

This Joseph Thomas is believed to be the brother of Micajah Thomas and Joseph’s wife Mourning is believed to be the daughter of Jacob Pope, Senior. If true, Joseph and Micajah Thomas’ mother, Ann Cotton, is believed to be the sister of Martha Cotton who married Richard Holland (more later). Ann is the daughter of John and Martha Cotton.

Jacob Pope Junr. must have been a young man when he died ca. 1744 as his father, Jacob Pope, Senior, lived to pen his last will and testament in 1772 Edgecombe County. As for Jacob Pope Junr., it appears he married and had at least one child named Shadrack Pope.  Following the court orders to divide the estate as seen above, on May 22nd, we learn that Leonard Green was appointed legal guardian of the said Shadrack Pope (below).  Leonard Green is always oh-so-close to these families that one should consider the possibility he was somehow related, maybe through marriage.

On the very next day following the above-written court entry, being Thursday, the 23rd, 1744, rationale for the choice of Joseph Thomas to be guardian is made clear as that court entry states that that the said Joseph Thomas had already married Mourning Pope Hilliard who happened to be the widow of Jeremiah Hilliard. Joseph Thomas’ wife Mourning is sister of the deceased Jacob Pope Junior and therefore she is Shadrack Pope’s aunt. At issue raised in this new court entry was a matter of fairness as Robert Hilliard, brother of the deceased Jeremiah Hilliard, “moved on behalf of the orphans of Jere Hilliard Dec’d., that Joseph Thomas Admr in Right of his Wife, Relect, Widow of the sd dec’d” had returned an accounting for the estate sale conducted by Sampson Pope, who was also the said Mourning and Jacob Pope Junior’s brother. Furthermore, the said Sampson Pope married Susannah Thomas who is also believed to be the daughter of John and Anne Cotton Thomas and therefore a sister of the said Joseph Thomas.

Looking into Jeremiah Hilliard’s family, his sister Mary Alice married into another but more proven Thomas family.  Mary Hilliard married Reverend Jonathan Thomas who was the son of Rev. John Thomas Esq. and Christenater Roberts of Toisnot Creek. Mentioned widely in histories of Toisnot and Kehukee Baptist Church, this John Thomas is historically prominent in our state’s early Baptist leadership.

As for the other Joseph Thomas, the one who married Mourning Pope, court records again remind us of life’s fragility as probated in 1758 Edgecombe County, this Joseph Thomas’ last will and testament mentions wife Mourning and their daughters Mary, Priscilla, and Charity Thomas (to each he devised lands on Pigg Basket Creek). No sons are mentioned though he chose his brother John Thomas to execute the will and the instrument was witnessed by Micajah Thomas. Surely Joseph and Micajah are related as is believed.

Seeking to verify the lands mentioned in Joseph Thomas’ 1758 last will and testament, and therefore looking back to transactions made during the period 1749-1753, this Joseph Thomas received three Granville land grants in Edgecombe situated on Pig Basket Creek and Peach Tree Branch. Serving as chaincarriers were John Thomas and Micajah Thomas (see above).

From beginnings along the Chowan and Roanoke Rivers, and in the same manner Bertie, Halifax, and Edgecombe had been created from Chowan Precinct, new counties sprang up along the roads heading west toward our state’s interior. Some new counties, such as Dobbs and Bute, were short-lived as they had been created in honor of British royalty and were therefore dissolved early in the Revolution. Records for those counties are few though the movement of people is clarified in the 1746 creation of Granville from Edgecombe County. Growing out of Craven to the south of early Chowan and Bertie, Johnston County was also formed in 1747 to the south of Granville. Bute was formed from Granville in 1764 and then Franklin County was formed from the politically abolished Bute County in 1779. And finally, Orange was cut from the western portion of Johnston with Wake being formed in 1771 along the dividing line between the two counties and a sliver of Cumberland County to the south.

Settling in the same area as Joseph Thomas who died ca. 1758, Leonard Green purchased in 1750 from Job Wilder 100 acres on the south side of Peach Tree Creek (3-501, Halifax). Witnessed by Sampson Williams and Henry Holland, the 400 acres originated as a Granville grant issued to the said Job Wilder in 1745.  Six years later, on 12 Nov 1756, Leonard Green, now of Johnston County, sold his land on Peachtree Creek in Edgecombe County after which he is found along New Light Creek which flows out of Granville County into what later became Wake County. And then, on 9 Feb 1760, Shadrack Pope now of Granville County sold to William Horn his 200 acres in Edgecombe situated on the north side of Tar River (0-94, Edgecombe). That conveyance was witnessed by James Horn, John Allen, and none other than Leonard Green.

Four days after Shadrack sold his land, Leonard Green of Edgecombe County also made a conveyance to Joshua Proctor. That piece of land was originally patented to William Bryant in 1749 (0-90, Edgecombe). So here we have an apparent guardian and his ward moving west at about the same time. And, along with them was a person named Joseph Thomas. But herein lies my dilemma. If Joseph Thomas, the person who interacted with the estate of Jacob Pope, died per the 1758 last will and testament filed in Edgecombe County, then who is this other Joseph who appears to be moving west about the same time as Shadrack Pope and Leonard Green?  …and this other Joseph Thomas does not go away! As a matter of fact, my y-DNA from a Thomas family in southern North Carolina matches that of the descendants of this mysterious Joseph Thomas who settled in Wake before crossing over the river into Chatham County.

Others. Living within the Edgecombe County community, Henry Kent received in 1762 a Granville grant situated on Lewis Branch in Edgecombe County. I suspect Lewis Branch is named for the family of Enoch Lewis who later received a Granville Grant along the Cape Fear River, in Orange County, now Chatham. As for Henry Kent’s land in Edgecombe County, it was sold in 1764 to Thomas Holland (C-252, Edgecombe). Henry Kent is later found in Wake, Mecklenburg, and South Carolina.

Anthony Holland sold to Adam Collins a 100-acre portion of 648 acres he received in 1761 as a Granville grant (C-258, Edgecombe). And then, two years later, Anthony sold his remaining land in Edgecombe to William Boddie (C-461, Edgecombe). Situated on Beaver Catcher Branch, this land grant adjoined that of Arthur Braswell and Bennett (Granville 1291, Edgecombe).  Reaching the end of his life and for love and affection, in 1769, the patriarch Richard Holland deeded land on Peach Tree Creek and “the Great Mill” to his son Thomas Holland. That transaction was witnessed by James Woodward and Reuben Whitfield. And lastly, considering son Thomas Holland, in 1771 he and his wife Mary Ross Holland sold 200 acres on the north side of the Tar River to Benjamin Oneal (3-21, Edgecombe). Note that Benjamin Oneal ended up in Anson County where Hopewell Methodist Church was built upon his land.  This church served the community where lived Jacob Thomas, son of my early ancestor Benjamin Thomas. William and Jacob Horn witnessed the deed to Benjamin Oneal.

Going back to two court entries that have haunted me since first reading them in late 1990s, I ask you to read them closely.

From the 1771 minutes of Cumberland County Pleas and Quarter Sessions, Leonard Green and Shadrack Pope appear in the following road order beside James Holland. Mentioned beside Leonard Gree, who is Samuel Green? Note the entry indicates these folks were properly in Cumberland County, likely living in a section north of the Cape Fear that became Wake County during the very same year.

Whereas a road is laid off from Nuce River to Braswell’s Ferry on the Cape Fear River and the road is opened and cleared to the Johnston line, ordered that there be a road from the said Johnston County line; Wm. Cone appointed overseer. Constable of the uper district to summon all the following to appear before a justice of peace on or before the second Tuesday in July to qualify and make a jury to lay off said road: Wm. Cone, Samuel Green, Leonard Green, Robert Pettigro, Charles Broom, Wm. Corbett, Denis Collins, Absolem Tyler, Abden Tyler, Moses Tyer, James Holland, and Shadrack Pope.

This absolutely had to represent continued interaction between Shadrack Pope, his old neighbors, and Leonard Green who was appointed his guardian following the 1744 death of Jacob Pope. And then in Dec 1772, the Wake County Pleas and Quarter Session minutes records the following:

Ordered that the following Persons be appointed a Jury to lay of a Road from James Quantocks to the County line agreeable to the Order passed last Court (towit):

Jacob Utley, James Quantock, Christopher Woodward, Lewis Jones
Landman Short, Francis Settles, Christopher Osborn, William Barker
Henry Day, James Holland, Richard Green, Anthony Holland,
Lazarus Hood, Joseph Thomas, and that John Utley be appd. Constable to summons said Jury.

Ordered that William Barker be Overseer of the road in the room of John Utley and the following hands to work under him (towit):

Leonard Green, Henry Day, Jesse Barker, James Holland
Anthony Holland, Richard Green, and also the hands included in that bounds.

Ordered that Edward Herring be Overseer of the Road from where William Barker Overseer Ends to the County line and the following hands to work under his (towit):

Lazarus Wood, Joseph Thomas, Sampson Holland, Thomas Hicks
Moses Hicks, Jacob Levin, Thomas Hensby, and Sampson Wood.

The above offers a more complete list of people working on the network of roads centered on today’s Avent Ferry Road. We see Richard Green, who we know is the name of Leonard’s father and brother. Most genealogies indicate James and Thomas Holland are brothers.  However, though Anthony Holland is mentioned with others at nearly every stop along the Holland family’s walk from the Chowan River, genealogies fail to identify him relationally as being a brother or even a member of the immediate family.  That must be an error.

And for Joseph Thomas who appears with others in Wake County, for many years I assumed him to be among the three members of the 1744 committee to divide the estate of Shadrack Pope’s father, Jacob Pope. But that cannot be the case as Shadrack’s Uncle, Joseph Thomas, died in 1758 per his last will and testament.  Furthermore, note that Joseph did not mention a son named Joseph Thomas in his will and yet there are others of that name who passed through Edgecombe County. All these people of similar names moved together; they were close, and they were community. Implications are powerful and do not end in Wake just as they had not done so in Edgecombe or earlier in Bertie County.

In up-coming posts I plan to look closer at each of the persons mentioned in this post along with the records binding them to one another in Wake County.  I plan also to look beyond, towards Montgomery County where the next leg of their journey reached a stopping point.  And lastly, I hope at some point to look back again at the record of Joseph Thomas who settled in Wake and Chatham Counties. Wanting to know of him is close to my heart if only I can shake the tree a bit more vigorously. But for now, finding a comfortable stopping place, I leave you with a few thoughts I plan to address in upcoming posts.

  1. The Holland family are mentioned but a few times in early Wake County deeds. However, roads and churches carry the family name as does the town of Holly Springs which creek and spring may have originally been Hollon’s Creek and Spring. And as for Anthony Holland, his only mention concerning land appears in a survey order for a grant to be issued to none other than Joseph Thomas. In 1780, the 550-acre tract (grant 481, Wake) included an “Improvement made by Reuben Wise & the Plantation whereon Anthony Holland now lives.”

  1. Raised in Charlotte situated far to the south of Wake County, I always considered Cumberland County to be Fayetteville. That was a huge error on my part because Cumberland actually joined Wake County until Harnett County was formed in 1855. In that area, just south of Wake and east of the Chatham County line, in 1780 Shadrack Pope received a grant for land situated on Beaver Dam Creek. His land is but a few miles southeast of where his earlier neighbors from Edgecombe settled.

  1. Much of the related genealogy I have seen online is Wake-centric with mentions of Edgecombe though I’m learning many families from Wake later ended up moving further west, to places like Anson and old Montgomery Counties. And just as the migration picked up new families as they passed through Edgecombe County, the move west from Wake introduced a new mix of people. However, the sense of community going back to our beginnings along the Chowan and Roanoke Rivers remains undeniable. Join me on my next post as we look closer at those who moved west from Wake.


My years camped out in the reading room at State Archives of North Carolina have given me a useful sense of many early families and their journeys across our state. Nearly as much as what I have learned from my own research, I also gleaned valuable insight from others as they approached the Archives “search desk” to voice their own unique requests for help. And of everything that I overheard, I particularly remember an older lady, an annual pilgrim you might say, who made numerous drives from Arkansas in search of her Yearby/Irby ancestors. We became friends and search buddies. I no longer remember her name though I do remember this lady routinely emailed me when she was enroute to her favorite place here in North Carolina.

As was the case with my ancestral family who made a significant stop in Anson and Montgomery Counties, my friend’s family was similarly drawn to the region surrounding the Rocky River. We had fun plowing the old papers though I will never forget her more recent ancestry descending from Hudson Yearby and his son Riley who both lived here in Wake County. You see, according to his final estate, Riley Yerby owned land at the corner of “Hillsboro” Road and the “Ridge Path” which latter road I believe reflects an early iteration of today’s Ridge Road. Now ending on Wade Avenue near Whole Foods Market, did the old Ridge Path run further, through what is now the campus at Meredith College? And located within the heart of Riley Yerby’s land happened to be a church. See it? I always wondered if this was a Baptist Church and whether Riley’s demise played into the 1920’s relocation of Meredith College from its beginnings in downtown Raleigh. Also, I’ve recently learned of a family cemetery once located on the campus beside the old Rotunda Building.

To go a step further with the mapping, the following overlays Riley Yerby’s estate plat atop today’s Google mapping imagery.  And while hastily putting together the collage, my mind went back to a conversation with Cheyney Nicholson whose father founded nearby Capitol City Lumber.  I remember Mr. Nicholson telling me how the old Hillsboro Road did not run the route it does today.  He said the road once ran the same path as nearby Beryl Road upon which Capitol City Lumber Company is located. Mr. Nicholson remembered as a child when Hillsboro Road was dirt and of his amazement when the main artery into town was first paved. Today the direction and bend of Hillsborough below seems to confirm the accuracy of both the estate platting and Mr. Nicholson’s memory of what once was.

Just the other night I had reason to remember my old friend from Archives. But first, note that I recently discovered a 1772 Wake County civil actions paper naming Gideon Green and Joseph Thomas. This and other documents now lead me to believe Gideon is the son of Leonard Green who also lived in the area and had frequent dealings with Joseph Thomas of Wake County.

Moving across the state, in 1783 Anson County, Gideon Green received a land grant for 150 acres on both sides of Richardson Creek for which Benjamin Thomas, my ancestor, served as chain bearer.  I now hypothesize that my Benjamin is the son of a person named Jacob Thomas who, a year earlier, received a land grant a few miles downstream on Richardson Creek. Gideon Green ultimately sold his 150-acre Anson County tract to Benjamin Thomas in 1785. Witnessed by Charles Harrington from earlier in Chatham County and William Gurley from earlier in Johnston County, that conveyance represents Gideon’s last known record in Anson County.

Overlaid atop the 1907 Miller map of Union County, once Anson County, Benjamin Thomas’s 150 acres purchased from Gideon Green is shown above in red. See it? The larger road running through the tract also shaded red represents present-day Pleasant Hill Church Road.  The purple road to the north is today’s Fish Road and the pink road near the bottom is Hwy-218. The yellow shaded road crossed at Nance’s Mill Ford before passing northerly through the lands of owner Wyatt Nance.  And for the small green shaded road, it crossed over Richardson Creek at what was called Charity Ford before passing the location where our Thomas family cemetery was once located. Per the labeling as seen in the 1907 map, the Thomas family remained a fixture on the lands they settled.

Now, upon reviewing tax lists and early land entry records to the north, across Rocky River in what became Montgomery County, now Stanly County, I have recently been able to advance what is known of the Green family narrative. First, in 1784 and being a year before Gideon Green sold his land to Benjamin Thomas, the said Gideon entered 100 acres on the head of Little Bear Creek (below).  Note below that Gideon’s entry adjoined the lands of William Irby, who happens to be none other than the person who raised the attention of my old research friend from Arkansas. And per the 1784 entry, at that time, the document states that Gideon lived in an improvement situated on the land. We now know why Gideon Green sold his land to my ancestor because he was in process of relocating across the river.

Before flowing into Long Creek near St. Martin’s Lutheran Church, Little Bear Creek rises to the north where Gideon’s entry was likely located near the present-day community of Millingport. And as for this land grant entry, there is no record of its issuance and therefore nothing survives indicating Gideon ultimately took possession of the land.  And looking beyond land grants to tax records, all that survives for early Montgomery County is one document being the 1782 tax list as shown in part below.

No tax entry for Gideon Green exists. In 1782 he apparently did not live in or own land in Montgomery County. However, note that his likely father, “Lenard” Green, was assessed 39for 150 acres, three horses, and fourteen cattle. And yet Lenard Green does not appear as entering land in Montgomery County though a person of that name appears as chain bearer for two pieces of land along Rocky River: Phillip Self received 100 acres on the fork of Island Creek and in 1783 Job Pendergrass received 150 acres joining the “Self improvement” on Island Creek. It may be possible that Job is the person listed in Revolutionary War records as having his ear shot off at the Battle of Kings Mountain.  He later lived in Burke County, and he may be the person of that name listed in the 1790 census as living in Orange County. Regardless, I imagine Leonard Green lived close to Phillip Self and Job Pendergrass on Island creek to which his taxable 150 acres in 1782 raised my curiosity in connection with the land of same amount issued to the said Job Pendergrass a year later. Also, on 1 Feb 1780, Leornard Green and wife Ann sold land (11-9, Meck NC) in present-day Cabarrus County on the west side of Rocky River at the crossing of Highway 24/27. Leonard sold the land to Samuel Bonds who was a well-known Baptist preacher. Witnesses for the transaction were Wm. Haynes, who is the namesake of nearby Haynes Meeting House, and Jacob Self who happens to be the brother of Phillip Self above.

The technique of “cluster genealogy” employed in this sort of research has allowed me to see beyond my goal of understanding the growth and movement specifically related to my family. Sometimes I think the term cluster is a might sterile as the inclusion of friends and neighbors in context of family growth and westward expansion bespeaks loudly of community. And totally under the researcher’s control, one can choose how deep into time and community their efforts will reach.  Note on the 1782 Montgomery County tax list that besides Lenard Green, two additional people named Richard Green are also enumerated. What is the significance for the name Richard and for that matter, how about for Lenard?  And why would there be two people by the name of Richard Green in early Montgomery County? Catching my attention when I first began back in the 1990s, I found the following 17 May 1763 entry in the Cumberland County Pleas and Quarter Session minutes:

Whereas a road is laid off from Nuce River to Braswell’s Ferry on the Cape Fear River and the road is opened and cleared to the Johnston line, ordered that there be a road from the said Johnston County line; Wm. Cone appointed overseer. Constable of the uper district to summon all the following to appear before a justice of peace on or before the second Tuesday in July to qualify and make a jury to lay off said road:

Wm. Cone, Samuel Green, Leonard Green, Robert Pettigro, Charles Broom, Wm. Corbett, Denis Collins, Absolem Tyler, Abden Tyler, Moses Tyer, James Holland
and Shadrack Pope.

And in Dec 1772, in the newly formed Wake County, Pleas and Quarter Session minutes records the following:

Ordered that the following Persons be appointed a Jury to lay of a Road from James Quantocks to the County line agreeable to the Order passed last Court (towit)

Jacob Utley, James Quantock, Christopher Woodward, Lewis Jones
Landman Short, Francis Settles, Christopher Osborn, William Barker
Henry Day, James Holland, Richard Green, Anthony Holland
Lazarus Hood, Joseph Thomas, and that John Utley be appd. Constable to summons said Jury.

In the earlier Cumberland County road order, listed beside one another are Samuel and Leonard Green. I’ve never researched Samuel but also mentioned are James Holland and Shadrack Pope who should both considered worthy of research as they are within our cluster or community.  And in the second road order in newly formed Wake County, it’s pretty cool now to see Leonard Green and Henry Day while knowing their earlier mention in a civil action paper naming the said Henry Day alongside Gideon Green who happened to sell my ancestor his first land in Anson County. Suddenly I have been able to change my assessment of family ties from being possible to highly likely. Also, I have recently written much about the Utley and Barker families though take a second to notice James and Anthony Holland ordered side-by-side to lay off the new road. The two are certainly related and yet seldom do you see them together in Holland family histories. I believe that’s an oversite. And lastly, the name Shadrack Pope from the first and earlier Road order is hugely important as in records going back to 1750’s Edgecombe County, Joseph Thomas, Richard Green, and Anthony Holland came together in settling matters related to the estate of the said Shadrack Pope’s father.  Not only do we see community in Wake County, but their togetherness will also become evident when we turn attention to the east, to Edgecombe County.

I can choose to limit my research at any point yet so much is gained by tweaking spheres of influence. James Holland died in Wake County whilst Anthony continued on and moved west through Montgomery County where he lived near William Yerby. As for the two men named Richard Green taxed in Montgomery County, were they father and son or possibly uncle and nephew?   And as will be seen, expanding the scope of research to include these men will illuminate others whose published narratives omit their passing through Montgomery County.  Often family histories are told from viewpoint of a perceived starting point and the finality of death yet understanding tells us life is filled with significant stops along the way. My next post will similarly tell the story of community and how its richness grew as members divided and moved across our state.


In April of 1844, William Holland Thomas, on behalf of Bonner Byrd, “came before a J.P. of Haywood County concerning a claim for a pension for services during the Revolutionary War.”  The resulting deposition reached the desk of representative T. S. Clingman in Washington County, District of Columbia where we learn the said Bonner Byrd was, at that time, “upwards of ninety years of age …my impression is he stated he was ninety-four” and living with his son Thomas W. Byrd “about half a mile from Qualla Town.”

From his enlistment in 1776 as outlined in his services protecting the Georgia frontier from Indians, Bonner Byrd deposes that following his discharge, he “moved to Halifax County Virginia,” “he was born in Bertie County, North Carolina, [and] moved from Virginia to Montgomery County, North Carolina.” He alludes to the possibility that at the time of enlistment he may have lived in York District, South Carolina. One would assume this timeline of events to be accurate though the actual migratory path may have included intermediate stops along life’s way.  To this idea Bonner Byrd appears in 1790 Wake County where many online genealogies show him to be the son of Edmond Byrd.  I’m George Thomas and I am a hesitant believer.

Shortly after 1790, Bonner Byrd shows up in the annals of Mecklenburg and its offshoot, Cabarrus County, North Carolina. And though he shares very little detail of that area, Bonner’s military pension request includes the following 1810 petition for pension application signed by neighbors:

To all persons whom these presents may come these may certify that we, the under subscribers have been acquainted with the ——- Bonnard Bird for several years back and as far as has come to our knowledge, he has behaved himself as and honest man Given under hour hands the 5th Day of February 1810. Henery Cagle                Charles T. Alexander George Cagle                     Thomas Love Fred. Keiser                        Peter (X) Long Charles T. Polk Jun                      Artur Taylor Charles Polk Sen                    Henry Cagle Charles Polk Junior                  David Cagle                                                   George Cagle (Additional signatures) William Polk John Cobul John Carothers Gideon Freeman

Bonner Byrd resettled in Haywood County during the 1810s, being the time others also made moves west. Among those were William Bugg who served in the War from Wake County. Also having lived nearby in Cabarrus County, friends and neighbors Jacob Smith and John Howell deposed: “that we believe him to be the age stated in his declaration, that he is ——- & — lived in the neighborhood to have been a soldier of the revolution and that we concur in that opinion.” The pension file is large and descriptive though Bonner Byrd states that his discharge and other records were lost when his home was “carried away by the river.”

Given the quick tour of Bonner Byrd’s military background, I now would like to draw attention to a piece of his land in present day Cabarrus County. Note that the following is far from complete as at some point I must return to other neighboring tracts once owned by Bonner Byrd …including land he sold to Thomas Ingram, the brother-in-law of my maternal ancestor James Love who were both born in Brunswick County, Virginia. For now, I find it intriguing how Bonner and others from Wake County decided to settle in the general vicinity where gold was first discovered by Europeans in America. And as will be shown, among this mix is also the fellow Thomas Barker who has been dogging my research efforts for quite some time.

Having passed east of Rocky River on Highway 24/27, one will almost immediately come upon an intersection where stands the North Carolina State historical marker for Reed Gold Mine. Turn left onto Reed Mine Road and the old mine site is but a few miles away.  There, visitors are given access to the old mining shaft, a museum, and trails through the old estate where the nearby John Reed family cemetery quietly tells its story.  Most tourists likely walk away thinking John Reed’s family settled on the surrounding lands though one needs to return to the intersection at Highway 24/27 to learn more of goldminer John Reed’s children.  South of the intersection, Reed Mine Road becomes Pine Bluff Road upon which this writing takes place.  And it’s there, straddling both Stanly and Cabarrus Counties, where young Conrad Reed did settle and die.

Conrad happens to be John Reed’s little son we have all heard about who famously discovered gold in America whilst playing in nearby Little Meadow Creek.  And keeping it in the family, Conrad married Martha Love, whose brother Jonah happens to be my mother’s ancestor. But also living on Pine Bluff Road on land adjoining Conrad and Martha Love Reed were the said Conrad’s brothers James, Henry, George, and John. And driven by the understanding of events and area land acquisitions well before the siblings came of age, for me the story of early settlement begins to unfold. The remainder of this writing concerns platted land, community, and ultimately a person named Thomas Barker who settled near the Reed family along with others who made their way from Wake County.

In the image below, notice the southerly course of Rocky River, the intersection, and Pine Bluff Road which heads off to the south. Mingling among the contour lines, one can see Reedy and Howell Branches entering the river from the east.  Note also that Howell Branch is named for Joseph Howell who settled in the area after leaving family beginnings far to the northeast in Edgecombe County. Joseph is the father of John Howell who spoke on behalf of Bonner Byrd in the wilds of Haywood County. Also, notice the five tracts of land below that I’ve platted for you to study.


Undated (likely 1771-1774) and filed in then Mecklenburg County (Deed 10-544), Thomas Polk, attorney for David Oliphant, sold Tract A to Peter Kizer.  At that time the extreme southeastern line of the 22 acres was said to join that belonging to “Hall Powell.” Note that goldminer John Reed married Sarah, the daughter of Peter and Fanny Keiser.

Earlier, in 1771, George Crowell came to settle next door as he purchased Tract B (80 acres) from Gov. Abner Nash and wife Justina (deed 6-50, Mecklenburg).  The young Justina married earlier to Royal Governor Sir Arthur Dobbs who controlled all the 100,000-acre Great Tract 5 and a portion of the adjoining Tract 2 upon which the lands I am writing about are a part. See image below. And following the 1765 death of Gov. Dobbs, his widow Justina married Abner Nash who himself became Governor in 1780 during the height of the Revolutionary War. Much of the land in Tract 2 was sold by deed by agents of Dobbs and Nash until the Revolutionary War when the new government confiscated lands owned by Tories for sale to construct the University of North Carolina.

As for Peter Kizer’s 20+ acre Tract A, in 1799 Cabarrus County, John Keiser of Knoxville, Tennessee, sold that piece of land to George Keiser [Kizer] by way of attorney John Culpepper (Deed 3-172, Cabarrus).  And in 1811, George Keiser turned around and sold both the 20+ acres Kizer tract and the 80-acre Crowell tract to John Keiser, who, from the conveyance, appears to have returned to Cabarrus County.  Had John Keiser explored opportunities to the west and maybe returned following word of gold?

Adjoining the 80-acre tract is the 58-acre Tract C purchased in 1773 from Thomas Polk, attorney of David Oliphant (deed 10-548, Mecklenburg).  Next, in 1812, Robert McMurray, Esq., Sherriff of Mecklenburg County, sold Tract D to John Kiser (deed 8-107, Cabarrus). Note the legal description of Tract D locates that piece of land partially on top of the 80-acre Tract B.

In 1811, Sheriff Robert McMurray sold to William Weddington 130 acres, being Tract E, which at that time was said to join John Kiser to the west and Mark Kiser to the north (Deed 8-103, Cabarrus). Also, note that the southwest corner of this tract ran along a small branch which we will later learn was called Howell’s Branch.

To the North of William Weddington’s purchase, Mark Keiser also purchased land, Tract F, from Sherriff Robert McMurray.  Note the title histories must reach deeper in time as all such sales by the Sherriff resulted from unpaid taxes by earlier owners. As for Mark Keiser’s 66-acre purchase (8-111, Cabarrus), the metes and bounds adjoin the Montgomery (now Stanly) County line to the east, John Keiser land to the southwest, and John Tucker land to the north. Please remember the name John Tucker. Per this deed, the land also shared two western lines with land owned by “Thomas Barker.”  Wow!   …from a letter against Gov. John Sevier published in the 1802 Tennessee Gazette, Thomas Barker and wife Ann testified in Logan County, Kentucky concerning a family of color once living in Wake County named Lucost who were wrongly enslaved by the Tennessee governor. Thomas Barker, that Thomas Barker, tells of moving from Wake County to a place “beyond the Yadkin.” If, living among the Keiser family, this were the same Thomas Barker, then he was not alone as others in his circle are found owning land near that outlined in this post. Could Thomas Barker in Cabarrus be the same as he who moved to Tennessee? I think not as the timing is way off.  Either Thomas Barker in Tennessee and Kentucky was back and forth from here to yonder, or possibly naming patterns and generations of the same Barker family are conflated. And yet, we see here that John Keiser likely made similar moves back and forth to Tennessee. So, not able to resolve the dilemma at this point, let’s continue looking at the broader community in hopes of at least learning a bit about those who lived near the said Thomas Barker.  But firstly, I almost forgot to share the “Barker” land indicated in Mark Keiser’s acquisition Let’s now go there.

Looking at Tract G (deed 8-90, Cabarrus), George Keiser sold 30 acres in 1811 to Thomas Barker. See it? That 30-acre piece of land joined John Tucker’s land to the north and Rocky River to the west.  Note that both Mark Keiser’s and now Thomas Barker’s land joined that owned by John Tucker to the north.  Let’s look at other conveyances within the area before considering the Barker land implications. And as you will see, the shape of land changes with time as owners buy, recombine, and sell their properties.  It’s much like DNA research though applied to a completely different animal.

On the map below, note that Tract C is virtually the same land as Tract C above. Note below how Tract H wraps around Tract C from the north and east and how the shape reflects the flow of Reedy Branch. Being 210 acres (deed 9-362 Cabarrus), the land was sold by John Keiser to Henry Reed in 1819.  Henry Reed is the son of goldmine owner John Reed and looking closely at the sideways fishhook shaped tract, it’s cool to me that as of 1819 that land incorporated portions of Tracts A, B, C, D, and E above.

Looking closer at Tract C, notice the drawing represents two shapes.  The smaller shape already discussed is incorporated in a larger pinkish colored handsaw or hand-gun shaped tract.  See it? The larger elongated Tract C spans from the river well across the county line into Stanly County. Deeded in 1828, Frederick Kiser sold the land to Conrad Reed, the fellow who first discovered gold. Metes and bounds describe the long northern extent of the land as being a “division line.” And to the west, against the river, see below where the northern-most line of Tract H runs southwestward to the water? Take a minute to compare that particular line to Tract B as this is the line that once adjoined the property of George Crowell. However, by 1828, at the time of this conveyance, the deed refers to the same line as being the “Catherine Reed line.”  Who is Catherine? It turns out that goldminer John Reed’s son Henry died in 1827 meaning this 1828 deed correctly referred to the land as belonging to Henry’s widow who was named Catherine. So, from this deed we learn that Conrad Reed owned land beside his brother Henry. Furthermore, metes and bounds for the gun shaped tract mentions Cheek land to the east and its southwest boundary clearly traces Reedy Creek.

I have not at this time been able to trace the title history of Tract I though its shape is established per the much later estate division of Moses M. Furr (Deed 90-32, Cabarrus). At that time Laura Shinn received her portion which land spanning north to south from Reedy Branch to Howell’s Branch.  Thomas G. Sossamon was said to own land to the north while Henry Yow is identified as owning adjoining land to the south.  A person named Henry Reid is also identified as owning Tract J to the east. Note this Henry is not the son of miner John, but instead is a person of color who somehow fits into the greater story.

The large Tract K located to the south represents the combination of smaller tracts including one first settled by Joseph Howell. That piece of land was sold to miner John Reed and in 1861, Lawson Gilbert Heileg and John Michael Harkey sold the larger Tract K to Henry Yow.  At that time the land was described as 250 acres “upon which the widow of George Reed Dec’d has a dower assigned.” So, this land once belonged to miner John Reed’s son George and following his death a portion was given to his widow.

Now moving to the north end of the map above, Tracts L, M, and N are included because their southern extent was key in allowing me to physically place other tracts along the river. Tract N was sold in part by Israel J. Furr and wife Usley to Wilson M. Furr (deed 13-124, Stanly). That deed mentions lands belonging to Turner, Barbee, Susan Hartwick, and Daniel Furr. Situated on Long Branch, Tract M was purchased by Susan Hartwick from F. M. Allen (deed 6-389, Stanly). This tract was later sold to John D. Jenkins with mentions of adjoining owners as being Mathias and George Furr.  And situated south of Tracts M and N, the unregistered deed for Tract L can be found in Israel J Furr’s loose estate papers. Likely having passed through his father, Mathias Furr, the deed for land in Stanly County dated 19 Oct 1840 is for 180 acres purchased from Samuel C. Klutts by George Reed. The survey further mentions the county line, Ransom Shinn lands to the northwest, Harkey and Shinn to the northeast, Isaac Harkey and Paul Furr to the east, and David Kiser to the south. And lastly within this grouping, Tract O across the line in Cabarrus County was purchased in 1826 from Peter Teeter by Martin Dry (deed 14-78, Cabarrus). This tract adjoins Reed’s line to the west.

Notice the wee 6-acres along the county line identified as Tract P. Purchased by George H. Teeter from Seneca Turner (deed, 14-54, Cabarrus) in 1836, this small piece of land fills a void between the lands of David Kiser, Peter Teeter, and Thomas Barker.  Remember previously I was able to locate Barker’s land through Tracts F and G? We now have confirmation by way of deeds to the east.

Looking at Tracts Q and R, David Oliphant sold the 80-acre Tract Q to William Murphy in 1779 (deed 7-117, Mecklenburg). And as for Tract R, the late Mecklenburg County Sheriff Andrew Alexander, sold that 100-acre tract to Henry Colledge in 1793 (deed 15-92, Mecklenburg). George Teeter’s plantation is mentioned at the northeast corner of the tract and a spring later referred to as Isom Spring is located near the river. In 1837 Peter Teeter sold Tracts Q and R to George H. Teeter (deed14-196, Cabarrus). And lastly, in 1840 Samuel C. Klutts sold the combined Tracts Q and R to George Reed (deed 14-288, Cabarrus). At this point note that goldminer John Reed’s son George Reed owned sizeable lands, Tracts L and R, which reached from the river east into Stanly County.  George Reed also owned land further south in Stanly County.

One tract of land remains. In 1838, before heading to Pope County, Arkansas, Darling Love sold to his brother Hartwell Spain Love 112 acres identified as Tract S (deed 14-98, Cabarrus).  See it? Metes and bounds mention the spring and mill tract to the north, the lands of “George Henry Teeter,” George Teeter’s house, and David Kiser’s division.

At this point, do you remember mentions of joining John Tucker land to the north in the descriptions of Mark Keiser’s Tract F and Thomas Barker’s Tract G? It turns out in 1793, Bonner Byrd purchased 100 acres from late Mecklenburg County Sheriff Andrew Alexander situated on the east side of Rocky River across from the “Molly Shoals” (deed 15-93, Mecklenburg). Cabarrus County deeds rightly indexed deed book 5 – page 14 as being a sale of land from Bonner Byrd to John Tucker though the deed does not appear on that book and page.  Sometimes that happens, however, in 1815 John Tucker is recorded as selling the above-mentioned land situated across from the Molly Shoal to none other than Thomas Baker [Barker] (deed 8-426, Cabarrus). Metes and bounds are the same as those in Bonner Byrd’s 100-acre purchase with exception of “six acres of said College” excluded. So, there we have it. Platted on paper and overlaid atop the above map (below), one can begin to understand relationships of land, owners, and events through time.

For me, I came to the search for Thomas Barker because some things in the story as told did not feel right to me. Looking at the small bit of land illustrated above, I knew neighbors of a Thomas Barker from Wake owned sizeable acreage adjoining and west of where Highway 24/27 crosses Rocky River.  And between the highway and Bonner Byrd’s purchase, and on the opposite or west side of the river, note the little branch flowing southeastwardly into the river which I know was called Meeting House Branch. And per 1700s deeds, the point where the creek met the river was called the “Mall.”  And going up Meeting House Branch just a bit, one would today find an ancient cemetery marking the “Baptist Meeting House,” otherwise known from a revolutionary war pension for a soldier serving out of Wake County as being Haynes Meeting House. Nearby, members of the Barker, Osborne, Green, Bugg, Straight, Kent, and other families from earlier in Wake also settled. And just as many headed west to and through the mountains, so did William Haynes, who is believed to be the founder of Bill’s Baptist in present-day Lake Lure.

And yet, I’ve learned lots of cool things through the process of looking though have not been able to prove any ties between the Barker family/families of Rocky River and Thomas Barker of Wake and then Logan County, Kentucky. This leaves an opportunity for DNA studies ….definitely not autosomal DNA as its genetic information likely falls to oblivion before one could reach back far enough to make the needed connection.  I hope those in the family will see this and consider the importance of Y-DNA testing which traces son to father deep in time.  And just maybe, a lucky Y-DNA match along with a plethora of documentation will someday lead to connections otherwise lost.  And as for all the other people listed, keep an eye open as I hope to methodically add to their stories during the upcoming year. I’ve spent a great deal of time learning about the lands of my distant ancestral family and their probable journey through Wake, Chatham, and Moore counties though it is time to come back home, to walk once more the lands my parents called home.


Gold! The family of John McCarn was certainly influenced by goings-on near the present-day town of Locust, in Stanly County, North Carolina. I came to John McCarn accidentally while working to plat the break-up of ancient land grants and conveyances of the Great Tracts once owned by Henry McCulloch and later Governor Arthur Dobbs. And to those rooted in Stanly County who have never heard of the Great Tracts, I strongly believe you to be remiss unless you dig deeper into this little-known history concerning your beginnings. But for now, let’s move beyond that issue.

You see, the above-mentioned John McCarn married Miss Fanny Crayton in 1851 Stanly County after she was found to be 15 years old per the 1850 census at which time, she was living in the home of her father Isaac W. Crayton. And later, in 1860, the growing McCarn family is listed in the nearby Rowan County census where John identified himself by his occupation as being a “Gold Miner.” There’s that gold word again.

Looking back to the family of Fanny Crayton McCarn, it is said her father Isaac W. Crayton, already identified, married neighbor Nancy Page in 1826. And going back one generation further, Isaac’s father William married his neighbor, Miss Fanny Reed, in 1804 Cabarrus County. And back around 1800, Little Miss Fanny Reed’s’ brother Conrad happened to stumble across a glimmering deposit of gold whilst playing in nearby Little Meadow Creek. The discovery was made on land owned by their father John Reed who in turn initiated the first profitable goldmining operation in America. The effort flourished though matters of family, industry, quantities of raw material, and greed ultimately led to its demise.  And as for the Crayton family, their mining interests through marriage to the Reed family is well documented though less known may be a later chapter punctuated in the descendancy of John McCarn.

All of the above took place on the old Cabarrus/Montgomery County line with the younger Isaac W. Crayton buying land in the latter through the dispersal of interests rising from another hugely important though failed mining dream. About that, hearing of gold being found nearby by young Conrad Reed, William Thornton, designer of the United States Capital building and father of the American patent office, acquired over 50,000 acres of previously granted land in then Montgomery County situated along its boundary with Cabarrus.  There must have been enormous push-back as much of this land had already been rightfully conveyed from the continued break-up of the Great Tracts. Furthermore, gold was not as plentiful in Montgomery County and then in 1828 William Thornton’s holdings fell into the hands of his widow Anna Marie following the death of the said William Thornton. This resulted in the massive sell-off of the residual estate over the next 20+ years through the assistance of agents such as Daniel Freeman, William Randle, and others. Also, and beyond the scope of this writing, unsold Great Tract lands once owned by Tories, being British supporters standing against the burgeoning United States, were ordered to be granted jurisdictionally by our state’s secretary of state.

Looking closer at the lands of Isaac W. Crayton, the following visual depiction is based on actual deed metes and bounds overlaying the present-day Stanly County GIS map:

    1. Deed 5-114 Stanly, 29 Aug 1857, Daniel Freeman to Isaac W. Crayton, being 135 acres joining Furr, the Deberry line, and the head of Lick Branch.
    2. Deed 2-329 Stanly, 21 May 1850, John Ward, Jere Adderton, Daniel Freeman, and Daniel Freeman through attorney William H. Randle to Isaac W. Crayton, being 199 acres on Island Creek joining the Lewis line (Lewis Honeycutt), Zion Page, and the Cowan (former owner of subtract of Great Tract) line.
    3. Grant File #46 Stanly, iss. 7 Nov 1843 to Wilson B. Herrin and William Crayton, being 100 acres on Island Creek joining Dorris Herrin. Chaincarrier: Dorris Herrin, Samuel Hinson.
    4. Deed 4-38 Stanly, 5 Sep 1853, Isaac W. Crayton to Mathias Furr Esq, in consideration of the natural love and affection said Isaac Crayton holds for his daughter Fanny McCarn, wife of John McCarn and further consideration of five dollars, “…to the said Mathias Furr in special trust that the said Mathia Furr will hold the said land for soul and separate use behoof and benefit of Fanny McCarn during her natural life and free from the control and management of her husband John McCarn.” This being 64 ¾ acres joining D. H. Honeycutt and the Crayton line.
      • Deed 12-100 Stanly, 1868, John McCarn and wife Fanny to Conrad Crayton (son of Isaac W. Crayton).

From the above, Isaac W. and wife Nancy Page Crayton loved their daughter Fanny, but clearly had concerns for the land they gave to her.  The civil war would follow and about the land, the couple soon-after sold it to the said Fanny’s brother in 1868. Still identified as “Goldminer,” John McCarn, and his large family, was living nearby in the Bethel community of Cabarrus County in 1880.  At some point the family left the area before resettling in Gastonia, in Gaston County, North Carolina. A place where cotton was king, the family suddenly exchanged the cultural demands driven by one industry for another. I guess the nature of gold mining and cotton “milling” are akin in that labor for both was mighty hard, if not cruel. For me, I can imagine families as they walked away from the mined-out region where the landscape certainly bore the ghostly memories of the failing ventures. But concerning this writing, the story I really want the reader to walk away with has just begun as in finding the name John McCarn, I also stumbled across the much-told story of his grandson named Dave McCarn who became famous for words of protest he would later sing.


There are different kinds of gold and for Patrick Huber, professor of history at Missouri University of Science and Technology, he recently took on a new role as historian for the Country Music Hall of Fame, …that’s a big deal!  I think the choice is perfectly suited as Dr. Huber has devoted countless hours studying our American-born “Country Music” heritage. Particularly in breaking down elements of a subset of sound referred to as “Hillbilly,” he realized that many songs from the 20s and 30s raised attention to the influences and working conditions faced by families as they left the farm to turn a quick buck in area cotton mills. The labor-intensive industry was driven by time clocks and hardened management practices aimed at maximizing productivity.

Central to Patrick Huber’s 2008 publication “Linthead Stomp: The Creation of Country Music in the Piedmont South” is the message of harsh working conditions giving birth to the form of music favored at that time by our parents and grandparents. And in ways I believe some locally have not considered, Dave McCarn, one of the artists Patrick Huber writes about, was likely influenced by ancestral family once living in now Locust, North Carolina.

Music in this region, along the Rocky River, exudes a history worth sharing. I could talk about the here and now and of my cousin Eva who became famous (to me) because she could “shake a leg.”  Eva was good at clogging and was chosen to be one of the cans of beans that up and began dancing in an old Bunker Hill Beans commercial. Don’t you know, the product had a little ham! And as for our grandfather, I hear he played a banjo and surely appreciated how music gave voice to the seemingly inescapable hard times in which he lived. For his generation the big elephant in the tent was the Great Depression and how it is remembered today through period art.

But going back two generations further, David Thomas, our great-great grandfather, was appointed Constable for nearby Upper Union County during the 1840’s. David may not have been known for his musical talents, but I imagine he was called upon in official capacity when little Patsy Beasley was brutally murdered by the young Mr. Nash. David Thomas likely helped in official capacity with the inquiry and participated intently as the case played out in court and the printed press.   Written anonymously and recounting that experience, the Ballad of Patsy Beasley illuminated violent crime and the unfairness of life endured by our ancestors. There are many other songs including the ballads of Tom Dulla and Naomi Wise, being stories of trial and tribulation also born in the Carolina Piedmont.  This sort of music is favored today though most importantly, people remember such heinous events by way of its retelling through strangely endearing songs.

Such is true of any song of hope and protest, whether offered up by enslaved people laboring in fields of cotton or by later generations engaged in the relentless grind of mill work. Stories of hard times, especially pertaining to making a living and life in the mill offer the family historian a valuable view to earlier days in which such songs of despair gave birth to a form of music known today as “country.”

Wikipedia: Doffers in Cherryville Mfg. Co., N.C.

The book Linthead Stomp dedicates a chapter on musician Dave McCarn, grandson of John and Fanny McCarn, whose youthful employment as “mill doffer” collided with the young man’s coming-of-age desires. Unlike most who rejected the way of life while growing up in the mill-town of Gastonia, North Carolina, Dave McCarn hopped a train and hoboed west in search of escape. His talent eventually led him to fame, of which Patrick Huber’s book addresses in comparison with numerous musicians who were similarly influenced, telling of young men like Dave McCarn who faced the hard times with a song.

I encourage the reader to Google Dave McCarn and explore the songs he wrote and sang.  Also, look more closely at the writings of Patrick Huber.  There’s a good and related article on the site Old Hat Records. For those interested particularly in the McCarn family, note that in 2002 Patrick responded to a query on the old Genforum genealogy site.  From that time working to write an “article” on the subject, Patrick is now historian for the Country Music Hall of Fame.  But of importance locally, I believe all things are connected. The ways of Dave McCarn’s voice cannot be borne by accident.  His message is not limited to his personal experiences in the mill. Surely, the struggles of mill work influenced his creative process though he must have also known of the hard times endured by his grandparents.  Just as we learn from Dave’s music today, did he not listen similarly to the words and sounds from his past?

The town of Locust is but a cross-roads kind of place, yet long ago it had the attention of those seeking fortune in gold. And in that, money has always been made on the back of others through hard labor and unfair practices of which defining experiences often find a way to later generations through song.


This last weekend I learned that my namesake great grandfather once worked for John Coffee Brooks who was known in southwest Stanly County as “Coffee John.” And then, while browsing through online deed books in hopes of understanding my ancestor’s relation with the said Brooks, I discovered an unrelated conveyance which caught my attention. Having spent a great deal of time exploring the Barker family of Wake County, curiosity drew me to a deed naming “Amy Barker.”  Who was she?

Thomas Barker of early Wake County was said in 1804 Tennessee that he once lived along the Yadkin River which bounds Stanly County.  And now, in the annals of Stanly County, I happened upon this person named Amy Barker.  What is her story, and does she somehow connect to the Barker family of Wake County? Amy does indeed represent a line of the family from Wake County and in telling her story I believe it best to begin at the beginning, with life in Wake County.

In 1815 Edmond Barker’s last will and testament was penned in Wake County, naming firstly his son Laban Barker (see below). Researchers claim Edmond to be the son of an earlier Joel Barker but concerning that thinking, I am not so certain. However, some of Edmond’s children end up in Middle Tennessee where a legal suit concerning rightful ownership of a slave connects their westward migration …keep Laban in mind.

Before moving on, Edmond Barker’s last will and testament as shared on Wikitree makes the following bequeaths:

“…son Laban Barker one negro man named Gillis…unto son Hosea Barker one Negroe known by the name Mark…unto daughter Lydia Shaw four shillings…unto daughter Prisciller Barker one negro girl named Rachel during her natural life and the said negro and her increase be equally divided between her three children, Briggs, Sterling and Hosea Barker…unto son Edmund Barker the land I now live on containing 200 acres and one bed and furniture…unto son Asa Barker five shillings…unto daughter Prenesse Barker one Negro girl named Gelly and the land which I bought of Aaron Read containing 75 acres one bed and furniture…residue of my estate, be sold, and the balance divided between children of my decd son Abner Barker to wit John Barker, Willis Barker, Sally Barker, Allen Barker and Polly Barker…ordain son Edmund Barker Executor.

Now, found in Stanly County deed book 2, page 337, and dated 11 Jun 1850, the following conveyance calls out “William B. Hines and others to Ruben Kendall.” Within the description,

Amy Barker of the county of Holmes in the state of  Mississippi, William B. Hines and Jane F., his wife, of Carroll County in said state, Joseph Marlow and Samantha A his wife of the county of Yazoo of state aforesaid, which said Jane F., Sarah, and Samantha are daughters of the said Amy, do nominate, constitute and appoint Ruben Kendall of Stanly County, State of North Carolina, our true and lawful agent and attorney for us in our names to receive from John H. Treadwell, clerk and master in equity of said county of Stanly , our shares of the proceeds of the lands of Charles C. [Carter] Coppege, des’d sold by a decree of the court of equity in and for the said county.”

From the 1850 census, being the same year as the above appointment, Amy Barker is found living in the home of her daughter Samantha in Holmes County, Mississippi.  Note also living in the household is Samantha’s husband and father-in-law who was born in Hungary.

Numerous entries on Ancestry pick up the family history at this point, telling of Amy Barker’s family and their life though I believe important information from Stanly County has been overlooked. The aforementioned attorney appointment is informative; however, Amy’s “Barker family” ancestry would likely avoid detection unless one looked a bit deeper, into related Stanly County loose estate papers. It is there, in the estate papers of the said Charles C. Coppedge, where mention of Amy’s marriage to Laban Barker is found:

 “The petition of  ——-Hines and wife Jane F. Hines, Joseph Marlow and wife Samantha A Marlow, & Sarah C. Coppege, the last named an infant under the age of twenty-one years who petitions by her next friend Reuben Kendall and of Mrs. Amy Coppedge widow of the late Barker humbly compliancy show to your Honor that Charles C. Coppedge late of Stanly County died seized & possessed of about two hundred and fifty acres of land situated on said County adjoining the lands of James Allen Esq, Robert Lanier, & others and that the said Charley C. left your petitioners, Janes A. intermarried with Joseph Marlow, and Sarah C  Coppedge his children, and Amy since intermarried with Laban Barker has departed this life. Your petitioners shew therefore that they are tenants in common of said tract or parcel of land. The said Amy Barker having a right of dower in the land which has never been assigned to her …”

From the above we learn that Amy (last name not yet known) married first Charles C. Coppedge and apparently shortly after his death she married Laban Barker. From the 1850 Mississippi census Amy appears to be the mother of John Barker who at that time was 17 years old. Therefore, it appears that Amy may have been married to Laban Barker as early as 1833, well before Stanly County was cut from Montgomery in 1842. Out of curiosity and needing an answer, when did Charles C. Coppedge die and for some reason, does the above documentation arise from a much earlier passing of said Coppedge?

Looking one last time toward Wake County, on 18 Sep 1805, Hosea Barker as mentioned later in his father’s last will and testament, married Polly Hays.  Hosea’s brother Laban Barker who was still residing in Wake County served as bondsman.  On 8 Jul 1814, being roughly a year prior to the writing of Hosea’s father’s last will and testament, Hosea Barker penned his own last will and testament in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Mentioned is wife Polly and their children to whom the said Hosea appoints Thomas Grier Junr, and Joseph McRum, guardians. Witnessed by John Bigham and Thomas [P] Swann, Hosea appointed trusty friends James Hartt Esq, and Samuel Neel to execute the will. The will was probated Feb 1815. From related land and estate records it appears Hosea Barker lived south of present-day Charlotte around the Steel Creek community.

Two years following the death of Hosea Barker, Polly, his widow, petitioned the court for guardianship of her minor children. As seen below, Polly names children Laban, Hilliard, John & Hosea? Barker.”

At this point I could go further. For instance, a person named Hilliard Barker, born 1811 North Carolina, lived in 1880 Texas.  Also, as will be discussed in a later post, the mystery person Thomas Barker will make another appearance along the waters of Rocky River.  I’ve learned more about this person though I still have no clue as to his extended family.


Seated in his Logan County, Kentucky home, John Powers penned a passionate plea addressing the Governor and the People of Tennessee. Governor John Sevier is no ordinary man as he was a famed Indian fighter, a leader of Over Mountain men serving in the Battle of Kings Mountain, and a statesman important to the founding of Tennessee. John Powers levied his concerns against the said John Sevier:

“As no doubt, from the exalted station you occupy; from the distinguished confidence your fellow citizens have reposed in you, you must be a just man, and a true republican; I take the liberty of offering to you, through the medium of the public papers evidence sufficient, in my opinion, to convince you, or at least the public, that you do unjustly, and contrary to right, hold in your possession, and detain in slavery, a certain woman of color, by the name of POLL LUCOST [Lucas], with her three children.

An amazing letter, this is unlike any I have ever read as John Powers seemingly risked all on behalf of an apparently beloved family of color he referred to as being friendless. Assuming John Powers to be racially white and as expressed in his own gentle word, it seems much was at stake as he and Poll Lucost were raised in the same household. Concerning Poll’s mother and the rest of her family:

“…they are friendless; the voice of humanity and justice is too feeble to call forth the energies that are necessary to contest in a tedious lawsuit with a man possessed of the great personal influence of the governor of Tennessee ….having been raised in the same family with Poll Lucust, from infancy to manhood, and well knowing her justly entitled to her freedom, when I found you determined to keep her as a slave – I caused a suit to be instituted against you, at Jonesborough, about three hundred and sixty miles from my house.”

Seeking to sway public sentiment in a suit he apparently raised 360 miles to the east in Jonesborough, Washington County, Tennessee, John Powers addressed the public and Governor through a lengthy letter he published August 22, 1804.

Who is Poll and who is the said John Powers?  Firstly, Mary Lucost is the mother of the above-mentioned Poll Lucost, and Mary’s other children are Val and Austin Lucost. Mary was always considered a free woman and remained legally free though out of necessity she bound herself by indenture to Thomas Barker for a term of seven years which court document John Powers stated he had in his possession. Mary died before her seven-year indenture matured and little of her, her children, and others is known prior to her death.

From the letter we learn of Thomas Barker’s brothers and of their father William. Some say Thomas is the son of Joel Barker but that cannot be true. Thomas Barker may have been a contemporary to Poll Lucost as the two appeared to grow up from infancy alongside each other in the same household.  Since from deposition Thomas Barker is said to be the son of William Barker, then Poll, surely lived in the same home alongside her mother Mary Lucost and the rest of her immediate family.  Mary Lucost and her family moved somewhere west, beyond the Yadkin River, with the family of Thomas Barker where I believe she likely died ca. 1770 -1790. Thomas Barker’s wife, Ann, stated she knew Mary Lucost, the mother, for a term of eight to ten years prior to the death of the said Mary Lucost.  Ann’s first knowledge of Mary Locust may go back to Wake County during childhood or possibly later, during a time they lived somewhat together beyond the Yadkin …being a time Ann was married to Thomas Barker.

Thomas Barker, who married Ann, cannot be the person of same name who died ca. 1763 and whose children Ephraim and William sold their rights to neighbor Christopher Osborne. I tried in earlier posts to make that connection though timing simply does not work. Realizing Thomas Barker, as mentioned in the letter, is contemporary to Mary Locust’s daughter Poll, how do we connect him to his father, William Barker, as was also declared? Let’s dig a bit deeper.

Issued in 1761 Orange County, North Carolina, the above appears in the survey for “Prissilla” Barker’s 450-acre grant. Some say Priscilla is the wife of Thomas Barker who died a year or so later though customarily she would not be the executrix for another man, William Barker, if that were the case. Priscilla is indeed the wife and widow of William Barker, deceased. And following her husband’s death, the widow Barker married Samuel Letman and in 17?? and registered in 1787, the said Priscilla Letman deeded “to my loving son Mark Barker, being my lands and plantation whereon said Mark Barker now dwells,” 125 acres bounded by a line of agreement made between myself and my son William Barker crossing White Oak Creek and Rocky Ford (deed H-65, Wake). The tract is “the upper part of [Priscilla’s] certain survey of 450 acres.” Witnesses to the deed were Brittain Utley and Lewis (X) Barker. Such documentation is important and should not be overlooked.

Overwhelmingly stated in depositions revealed in John Powers’ 1802 letter, and supported through documentation, it is clear beyond discussion that Priscilla is the wife and widow of William Barker who died prior to 1761. And from the deed description above, we now know that the deceased William Barker is the father of both Mark Barker and William Barker. Furthermore, one must question Lewis Barker who witnessed the aforementioned deed. This is especially true as depositions from John Powers’ letter verifies that William and Priscilla’s sons Mark and William Barker have a brother named Lewis Barker. Surely Lewis Barker who witnessed a transaction by his mother is the same Lewis Barker who was deposed and gave statement per John Powers’ letter. Finally, serving as witness in the above-mentioned deed is Brittain Utley, the son of John Utley who also testified per the letter. All the players are in place though one question remains, …who is Thomas Barker?

From the survey for Priscilla’s 450-acre grant which was likely entered by her deceased husband William Barker, not only did a person named Thomas Barker serve as chain bearer, but the land itself is described as joining the lands owned by “Thomas Barker.” That fact is magically given genealogical meaning by family historians as in a 1778 caveat, being a mechanism for resolving a legal land conflict, we learn that a person named Thomas Barker died ca. 1763.  And as already stated, this deceased Thomas Barker once owned land adjoining that of Priscilla Barker’s 450 acres. Who is Thomas Barker?

Firstly, Thomas Barker who died ca. 1763 cannot be the son of William and Priscilla Barker as their son of that name appears prominently as a deponent per the letter written by John Powers in 1802 Kentucky.  That Thomas Barker, alive and well in 1802, is legally identified through depositions by his brothers Mark and Lewis. It is possible the same Thomas Barker who moved to Kentucky could be the one who served as survey chain carrier and whose land in 1761 adjoined that of the widow Barker’s 450 acres. If so, he would have likely been one of the older children in William and Priscilla’s family if not the oldest. Even so, I struggle with the idea that such a person born ca. 1740 would have been gallivanting around Middle Tennessee and Logan Kentucky during the early 1800’s though records undeniably point in that direction.

On the other hand, I think it is equally plausible that Thomas Barker whose land adjoined that of Priscilla in 1761 is the same as he who died ca. 1763. That person cannot be successfully linked to the tree (see green lineage in familytree near bottom of page). As for William and Priscilla Barker’s son Thomas, maybe born a bit later, he avoids record before leaving Wake County with the indentured Mary Locust and family.

There is one last possibility worth considering as it is known that Thomas Barker who died ca. 1763 left a wife and sons William and Ephraim, who I’ve found later in now Cabarrus County, North Carolina. What if Thomas Barker’s wife, name unknown, gave birth to the two sons and yet had a younger child named Thomas for their father?  Such a child could have been raised by an uncle or maybe his grandmother and therefore being given a family heritage based on love and not blood. Maybe this child was not truly the son of William though for the most part he could have been raised by his Uncle William Barker. Such thinking is a stretch though the suggested possibility does exist. For now, I’ll move on as I do not want to get bogged down in piecing together a troubled genealogy that may be conflated in the very real possibility that early ancestors lived in hard times only to be made whole through undocumented love and the care of neighbors and family.

Getting back to Mary Lucost and her son Austin Lucost, from the letter, “he [Austin] lived on the waters of Holton [Holston River] as a free man.” Austin Locust purchased his wife, (name not given in the letter) from Governor John Sevier.  From a lone deed in Jefferson County, Tennessee, Austin conveyed “seventy-five acres [on the north side of Mays Mountain] on which I now live, in consideration of the love and good-will I have and bear toward the said Hodge and Vance.” Austin deeded his rights back to the two men who originally, and possibly graciously, “secured the said land to me [Austin] during my life-time and during the life of my wife Rachael.”

It is apparent that Governor John Sevier somehow encountered the Lucost family in such a way leading to the enslavement of the formerly free Poll Lucas while also selling to her brother [the free Austin Locust], a slave named Rachael who became the said Austin’s wife. Complicated. And as for their brother Val Lucost, John Powers further stated that Mary Locust’s son “Val Lucust lives in North Carolina, as a free man, no body pretending to set up any claim to him.”  That statement is not wholly true as three years prior to publishing the letter, in 1801, the following was published in Raleigh, North Carolina.

[Raleigh Register, 6 October 1801]


On the 29th Instant, about Mid’ Night, four Men came to the House of VALENTINE LOCUST, an aged Free Negro, who resides on Leek Creek, in Wake County, and calling at the Door to gain Admittance, as soon as the Door was opened, Two of them entered with Clubs, and instantaneously knocked down the old Man and his Wife, and beat them to such a Degree as scarcely to leave Life; and whilst they were in that Situation, the Robbers carried off two of their Children, a Boy named Absalom, aged about twelve Years, of a yellowish Complexion, who is just able to read and write; a Girl, named Polly, aged about five Years, of a Complexion more yellow than her Brother.

The Father of the Children is a respectable and industrious old Man, who has hitherto made ample Provisions for himself and Family; and it is hoped, from the peculiar Circumstances of his Case, arising from his Incapacity to bear Witness, except against his own Colour, added to the distressed situation he must be place in after the Loss of his two Children, will awaken the Feelings of the Humane, and that they will contribute every Thing in their Power that may tend to the detecting and punishing of such vile Offenders.

It is supposed the Perpetrators of this Offence, will endeavor to convey their Prey to the State of Georgia, in the Character of Slaves, for the Purpose of Traffic.  Wake County, N. Carolina.  Sep. 30, 1801

[The Printers in the U. States who are desirous of detecting the Offenders, will give this a Place in their Papers.]

In 1801 Valentine Locust was considered to be “an old man” and a free person of color living somewhat normally in Wake County. He was not alone as numerous free families of color in our county ca. 1800 were impacted by the worsening black codes. This is an interesting population, one seldom written about.

Among the mixed-race citizens were several named Valentine, whether used as a given or surname. Additionally, in 1807, a person named Nancy Valentine posted a newspaper (right) notice concerning three of her children who had been taken near Fish Dam Ford on the Neuse River (present-day area of Falls Lake).

Nearby, in 1784, another person of color identified as Valentine Austin of Franklin County, first appears in Wake County when he purchased 100 acres on a branch of Fall Creek from Nathaniel Bridges. It appears the area surrounding Fish Dam Ford in northern Wake was particularly brutal as period newspaper notices account for numerous horse thefts and missing wallets as well as people of color who were believed to have been taken. It seems most of the people of color passing through northern Wake County had ties back to Franklin and other counties to the east.

Later, in 1798, the same Valentine Austin mentioned above purchased 100 acres in southwest Wake County from William Love to whom the land had been originally issued as a grant during the same year. “Leek Creek” as identified in the notice may have been Lick Creek or Branch, of which there are many such ephemeral streams in Wake County.  However, I believe odds are good that the stream where Austin Locust lived in Wake County forked off Cary’s Branch near the lands of Peddy and Utley in southwest Wake. Many, both Black and White, who first lived in the northeast of Wake County, eventually moved or bought additional lands in the south.

Valentine Locust, son of Mary as written in John Powers’ letter, served in the Revolutionary War. Rachael, his wife and widow, filed for a pension in the 1830’s. We know that Valentine enlisted 26 Apr 1776 for 2 ½ years in 2nd Company, North Carolina Battalion. Soldiers were paid in land since North Carolina was land rich though money poor. For his service, Valentine Locust received warrant No. 782 in 1784, for 228 acres of land situated on Spring Creek of Red River in Robertson County, then Davidson County, Tennessee. Spring Creek rises in an area geographically known as “the Barrens” or Barren Plains before emptying in the Red River near the Logan County, Kentucky line. Of all people and of all the places, Valentine’s acquisition of land in 1784 connects to people who are later mentioned in John Powers’ public plea.

Looking deeper into the letter published by John Powers, all remembered Mary Locust as being an old lady of color who passed as free. Witnesses confirmed her children were as she had stated, and she was neither Black nor White as they had always heard her mother was “Indian.”  Lewis Barker stated that Mary Locust went from Wake County with his brother Thomas Barker to the Yadkin River, where he, Lewis Barker, saw her some other time.” People were clearly in motion.

Mark Barker stated that Mary Locust formerly lived with his mother and that he had also seen Mary’s two daughters on the Yadkin with his brother Thomas Barker. Note that the Yadkin River is long, rising near Blowing Rock in North Carolina, flowing southeast to join the Great Pee Dee in southern Stanly County. The families could have set up a home anywhere along the river’s path. But also, during this time was the Revolutionary war and what impact did that have on those who had only recently moved and settled? Reviewing grants and deeds in the numerous counties along the river’s path, I have not found any documentation clearly identifying where Thomas Barker settled before coming to Tennessee. Furthermore, John Utley stated that he was acquainted with Mary Lucost some forty or fifty years back (ca. 1752-1762) while she lived with “old Mr. William Barker,” father of Thomas Barker, with whom she removed from the county of Wake to the Yadkin River.

Appearing before justices West Maulding and Richard Boyce at the home of Clayton Talbot in the town of Russellville, Logan County, Kentucky, John Powers, Celia Maulding, Thomas Barker and Anne Barker his wife also provided statements.  As for John Powers, we learned he “is the son of Mrs. Thomas Barker,” indicating that the said Thomas’ wife Ann had likely been previously married. Ann Barker knew of Mary Lucost for 8-10 years prior to the death of said Mary.  As earlier discussed, was Ann married to Thomas Barker when she met the said Mary, or did she know of Mary beforehand, maybe in childhood?

Illustrating the impact of the governor’s actions, John Powers stated in his letter that the children of Mary Locus’ daughter Betsy “were held as slaves by Wm M’Ado, who publicly, in Robertson County court, at two different times, acknowledged their freedom and had them bound to him as poor orphans.” Thomas Barker further stated that “the said Mary [Locust] voluntarily indentured herself to him, for the space of seven years, in consideration of the payment of twenty-one pounds, by, this deponent, to the use of the said Mary; and the said Mary died before the expiration of the said term of seven years.” That he, Thomas Barker, never held said Mary as a slave. And finally, from depositions revealed in the letter, Thomas Barker’s wife Ann and their daughter Celia Mauldin spoke to birth and the legitimacy of Mary’s grandchildren.

Turning the page and moving west, Thomas Barker, named in John Power’s letter, can clearly be found in Logan County Kentucky as well as Robertson County, Tennessee.  Not only there, but a person of that name seems to appear a bit to the south in Dickson and later Hickman County. In fact, what I see in land documentation may represent two or more branches of the extended Wake County, North Carolina Barker family who settled in Tennessee over a period of time (more later).  However, and back to Thomas Barker who appeared in John Power’s letter, the area where he first settled in Tennessee was situated along the western extent of the Tennessee/Kentucky State line on the south fork of the Red River in a geographical region called the Barrens. The Barker family married into the Maulding family who, in 1780, built a stockade along the Red River called “Mauldings Fort” in fear of attack by the Indigenous people. Nearby is also the site of Red River Meeting House, where the first-ever religious camp meeting was held in America in June 1800. Organized by Presbyterian Minister James McGready, thousands of hungry souls gathered at the 1800 Meeting which marks the important start of the Second Great Awakening.

In an earlier post I commented on the merciful tone of John Powers’ letter. It turns out the observation is spot-on as John Powers was a Methodist preacher.  As will be shown in a little more detail, John Powers eventually moved to Bond County Illinois, where in February 1816, he preached a sermon at Fort Jones.  Powers was also one of the first judges in Bond County, Illinois.

Back to Thomas Barker, did he settle only on the Red River, or was his movement west punctuated by earlier stops along the way? Did he make other land purchases in Tennessee? Did Thomas Barker move to Tennessee near the turn of the 19th century or was he there earlier, possibly during or shortly after the Revolution? What do we know of him prior to Logan County Kentucky and of all people, how did Poll’s children end up in the hands of powerful John Sevier, who lived 360 miles to the east in Washington County, Tennessee? Since this Kentucky fellow is not Thomas Barker who died ca. 1763, then what is his story from the time he left Wake with Mary Lucost, the person of color who he indentured?

As a starting point, it is known that John Powers, Thomas Barker, and Thomas’ wife Ann provided statements at the same time at the residence of Clayton Talbot in Russellville, Kentucky. But earlier, in then Tennessee County, near the “western boundary of Sumner County and the Virginia line”, being in May 1789, a person named Thomas Clark received a military warrant (Deed A-92, Montgomery County TN) for 128 acres on north side of the Red River and on the east side of “Thomas Barker’s plantation” on the “Barren.” So, it appears Thomas Barker had a plantation in Tennessee, early on, prior to 1789. Note that Middle Tennessee rapidly divided following the end of the Revolution with Tennessee County forming from Davidson followed by Robertson from Tennessee. Then was Montgomery, Stewart, Hickman, and Dickson to the west.

In Oct 1799, Thomas Barker of Robertson County Tennessee purchased 100 acres situated on the state line on the forks of Red River in Logan County, Kentucky. This land was initially granted to Solomon Perkins in 1796.  And then in Oct 1801, John Powers of Robertson County TN sold to Lewis Barker “of same,” 200 acres on the fork of the Red River (Deed A1-568, Logan KY) joining Thomas Barker and Lewis Barker. I guess it is possible two unrelated families of Thomas and Lewis Barker could have acquired adjoining lands without sharing kindred relations though such coincidence is highly unlikely.  This deed from John Powers is used to declare Thomas Barker the father of said Lewis Barker per an article in the August 1932 issue of the N. C. Historical and Genealogical Record. So, at the very least we know from the deed that Thomas Barker and Lewis must somehow be related.  Furthermore, we know John Powers and Thomas Barker owned adjoining lands and signing in witness was none other than William Mc’Ado, the fellow to whom John Powers expressed disdain in his letter directed at Gov. John Sevier:

“Your example in detaining Poll and her children, has had a very fatal effect in Logan County Kentucky, where three of Betsey’s children are held as slaves, under Wm M’Ado, who publicly, in Robertson county court, at two different times, acknowledged their freedom and had them bound to him as poor orphans.”

Ninian Edwards

In Jun 1802, Thomas Barker, Anne Barker his wife, Celia Maulding, and John Powers, were called to the home of Clayton Talbot by justices West Maulding and Richard Boyce to testify “in a certain matter of controversy” where Ninian Edwards was plaintiff and Morton Maulding defendant. Justice West Maulding was Thomas and Anne Barker’s son-in-law as he married the above-named Celia Barker in 1793. Furthermore, Ninian Edwards happens not to be your ordinary run-of-the mill plaintiff. Settling in Logan County about the time of this court action, Ninian held the rank of major in the Kentucky militia. He was a circuit judge and by 1806 became chief justice of Kentucky’s Court of Appeals.  Ninian Edwards became governor of the new state of Illinois in 1809 where he later served as senator from 1818-1824.

Curious concerning the above court actions, the year following Lewis Barker’s purchase of land from John Powers, I learned that Logan County deeds record the March 1802 indenture of Betsy Lucas and her four children to none other than Ninian Edwards. Central to John Powers’ letter and occurring only three months prior to Ninian’s “certain matter of concern,” Betsy’s named children in the deed are the same as those appearing in John Powers’ letter:

James Lucas – aged about sixteen years

Austin Lucas – aged about thirteen years

Moses [Mote] Lucas – aged about ten years

Hannah Lucas – aged about fourteen years

I have pondered much about Betsy and her children, of how they fell into the hands of Gov. John Sevier.  From the hands of common citizenry living hundreds of miles away, finding a plausible social mechanism leading to the forbidden acquisition has been quite vexing. And now, here we see the family of color indentured into the hands of Ninian Edwards who certainly moved within the same circles as Governor John Sevier. Maybe the indentured family moved from Lewis Barker to the powerful Ninian Edwards before becoming the tainted property of the Governor of Tennessee? The timeline of events from the Lucas family indenture to appearing in John Powers’ letter certainly supports such a scenario.

Often family history is less to do about a particular place or county and more about a region, maybe defined by a river running through it. And as was the case earlier in North Carolina, there came a time when members of the family divided and moved on as dictated by the personal desires of each. As for Thomas Barker, he can be found along the state line in both Kentucky and Tennessee. Then, around 1810, records show the family spreading deeper into Kentucky and across the Ohio River to Illinois. Some remained in or possibly settled to the west, in Tennessee. The following offers an overview of related land records:

  1. Jul 1785, William McAdow, assignee of Joshua Adcock, a private in the Continental line, 274 acres in Davidson County on the south side of Red River below the Rocky Spring and in the Barrens. Further assignment: Henry Bradford, Daniel Flannery, Thomas Barker.

  2. May 1789, Tennessee County, Thomas Clark received a military warrant (Deed A-92, Montgomery County TN) for 128 acres on north side of the Red River, and on the east side of “Thomas Barker’s plantation” on the “Barren.”

  3. Undated though a timeframe can be deduced from other entries. The following land grant entries likely occurred in the late 1790s:

    1. Jno Hinton Heirs – No. 2929, being 640 acres on the Middle Fork of Big Barren River near an “Indian Camp on the south side of the fork where William Barker, William McAdow, & Lewis Barker were shooting at a tree and cut the bullets running so as to include the low grounds on the creek for compliment.” Was this John Hinton living earlier in Wake County?
    2. George Trulock’s Heirs – No. 2974, being 640 acres “on the Middle Fork of the Big Barren River near the head of a branch where William Barker and Elijah Allen killed two Buffaloes in a beaver dam on the south side of the Middle Fork. William Barker”
    3. William Gee – No. 40, being 228 acres on the Middle Fork of the Big Barren River on the south side beginning at the lower end of the low grounds opposite to a high bluff where William Barker & William —- crossed the river last fall when they were hunting to run up the river on the south side.  B.”
  4. In Oct 1799, Thomas Barker of Robertson County Tennessee purchased 100 acres from the estate of Timothy Chandler. The land was situated on the state line on the forks of Red River in Logan County, Kentucky, and was initially granted to Solomon Perkins in 1796.

  5. October 1801, John Powers of Robertson County TN sold to Lewis Barker “of same,” 200 acres on the fork of the Red River (Deed A1-568, Logan KY) joining Thomas Barker and Solomon Perkins.

  6. October 1802, Lewis Barker, entered 400 acres on the Red River lying in the county of Tennessee west of the Cumberland Mountains on the waters of Red River on the State line, joining Wm. McAdoo and Thomas Barker. Originated for the service of Samuel Griffis, assigned to Lewis Barker

  7. February 1803 Thomas Barker of Robertson County TN sold 200 acres on the Red River in Logan County KY (Deed A1-578, Logan KY).

  8. April 27 1804, Thomas Barker of Logan sold 228 acres on the south fork of Red River on the Barren (Deed A-190, Robertson) issued 15 Sep 1787

  9. August 1804, Lewis Barker now of Livingston Kentucky to Alexander Gordon, being roughly the same 400 acres of land as issued to said Lewis Barker as appears in No. 2 above. As of 1804 one of the survey lines changed “as agreed” and no longer is Thomas Barker mentioned.  Instead, this deed (Deed f-40 Robertson TN) refers to “said Barker’s old Plantation,” referring to Lewis Barker, not Thomas. Thomas Barker is declared the father of said Lewis Barker per an article in the August 1932 issue of the N. C. Historical and Genealogical Record.

  10. December 1807 by his attorney West Maulding, Thomas Barker of then Dickson County TN sold 200 acres in Logan County situated on the State line and in the Barrens (Deed B-127, Logan KY).

  11. May 1811, Thomas Barker now of the Illinois Territory sold four people he had enslaved (Deed C-235 Logan Ky) being Moses, Grace, Bob, and Lucy, which slaves were sold to Joseph Woolfolk.

  12. The following year, in October 1812, Thomas Barker of place not mentioned, sold to Joseph Curd “one-half of a claim of land pending a suit to reclaim the land, it being sold to a certain John Copeland by West Maulding as attorney in fact said Barker never gave any such power.”

Published 25 May 1810 in The Farmer’s Friend (Russellville, Logan County Ky), Lewis Barker was living at that time in Livingston Kentucky where he labored to establish a ferry crossing the Ohio River below “Rocky Cave,” now known as Cave-In-Rock. Cave-in-Rock is located across the river in what would become the state of Illinois eight years later.  “Beginning in the 1790s, Cave-in-Rock became a refuge stronghold for frontier outlaws, on the run from the law which included river pirates and highwaymen.” This was a rough place best suited for the toughest of men. I can imagine life for the Barker family during these early days.

Next, in 1811, Thomas Barker of Illinois Territory deeded in Logan County four people he had enslaved. Living in Illinois, Thomas Barkers’ likely son Lewis Barker served as captain in the Wabash Territory Militia. In 1818 Lewis became the first Illinois state senator elected for the county of Pope in Illinois.  Records of a person named “Thomas Barker” in Illinois government appear well into the 1830’s, making me wonder if that person could be a son or even a grandson of this family? Note that I am merely stirring the pot in the hope others will taste and add to the proverbial stock.

Looking back to 1799 Robertson County, Tennessee, family significance can be found in Thomas Barker’s purchase of land once belonging to Solomon Perkins. The transaction represented more than land and a mere exchange of money. The land in question fell into the hands of Thomas Barker’s son Lewis Barker and then:

“…on Nov. 7, 1813, in Pope County, Ill., Isaac [Perkins], then 18 years old, married Jane Barker (1797-1862), daughter of Lewis Barker, a neighbor of Solomon Perkins who, like Solomon, had been born in North Carolina and settled in Livingston County, Kentucky, before coming to Cave-in-the-Rock.”

Jane Barkers’ husband, Isaac Perkins, served as a private under the command of Major Isaac Stillman in the Black Hawk War of 1832. Stillman and his men, including Perkins, engaged Black Hawk forces on 14 May 1832, in the first battle of the Black Hawk War, known as the Battle of Sycamore, or better remembered as Stillman’s Run. Not realizing they had made camp near the Black Hawk warriors, Stillman’s ill trained troops panicked upon encountering the Indians which led to a disastrous retreat, hence the name, “Stillman’s Run.” “Black Hawk warriors slaughtered, scalped, and beheaded the few soldiers who attempted to make a stand. Among those who lost their lives was Jane Barker’s husband, Private Isaac Perkins.” The following day a state militia led by a 23-year-old captain named Abraham Lincoln came upon the grizzly scene upon which the soldiers’ remains were gathered for burial in a common grave.

Indications would seem that the families of Barker, Powers, and others moved permanently north, taking advantage of lands becoming available along the Ohio River in the new state of Illinois.  And yet, back in Robertson County, Tennessee, records there tell of movement further west, deeper into Tennessee as opportunities became peaceably available.  From 1808, maybe earlier, the Barker family can be found in Hickman County Tennessee which formed from Dickson in 1807.   Remember in 1807, Thomas Barker of then Dickson County TN sold his holdings in Logan County, Kentucky.  Thomas Barker was likely not living at that time in Logan County as this land may have been wrongly sold by West Maulding who we know married Thomas Barker’s daughter Celia. It is traditionally believed that Celia [Selah] Barker was born ca. 1772, which means her father Thomas Barker would have been born no later than ca. 1755.  A person can only live so long, and time was running out for Thomas Barker.

It’s clear that Thomas Barker, the one named in John Powers’ published letter, drifted south and west out of Logan County, Kentucky beyond Robertson County, Tennessee. He may have died there, or across the Ohio River in Illinois. I believe he died in Tennessee. Looking online on Facebook at the Robertson County Genealogy and History Page, a descendant of John Powers inquired about John Power’s children who returned from Illinois to settle around Robertson County, Tennessee. I wonder if, at least in part, some of the Barker family later living nearby in Tennessee did likewise. And/or, are the Barker folks who later lived in Tennessee part of a second and maybe third wave of family relocating from Wake County, North Carolina?  Furthermore, if Thomas Barker truly knew Mary Lucos possibly as early as the 1760’s, then by 1800 his life was certainly coming to an end as has already been discussed. It seems his movement would have slowed by that time. I wonder where Thomas and Ann Barker ultimately died.

Looking back to an earlier post, Andrew Peddy and Joseph Cobb of Wake County bought into a military land grant of 5000 acres issued for the service of Capt. James Emmet of the North Carolina Continental line. The land was situated in Bedford County along the Elk River located in southern Tennessee.  Likely purchased as an investment, Andrew Peddy sold his share of this land after purchasing entitlement to 640 acres to the north. Concerning that purchase, in 1808, Andrew Peddy of Wake County received warrant # 2871 for 180 acres situated in Hickman County, Tennessee. Situated on Tumbling Creek of Duck River, the land was later subdivided in part to Thos Fowler, and then William Barker.  Drawn by Drury Barker, William Barker assigned part of the land to Thomas Barker. One corner of that tract is situated “above where said Barker lives.” And in the same year and found on the same page in the land register book, William Barker is recorded as being assigned 100 [additional] acres of Anderson (Andrew) Peddy’s Warrant # 2178. Related title information from the land registration book follows:

Again in 1808, a person named Drury Barker entered 50 acres in Hickman County situated on Garner’s Branch of Piney River joining Lewis Barker’s 62-acre occupant claim. FYI, occupant claims were made by people who actively lived on unclaimed land. This is important because in 1807 Logan County, Kentucky, West Maulding stated Thomas Barker, his father-in-law, lived in Dickson County at that time.  Also in the same year, being 1807, Hickman County was formed from Dickson  ….hence a workable title history connects Thomas Barker of early Robertson, Tennessee and Logan, Kentucky, a bit further west to Dickson County, Tennessee which later became Hickman.

Advancing movements westward in Tennessee, please look at the following timeline. Note that my accompanying platting is meant to give the reader an idea of location and should not be considered exact in locating family homeplace.

  1. Thomas Barker [assignee of Solomon Howard], 15 Sep 1787, warrant 228, Davidson County, being 220 acres on the south fork of the Red River. This tract fell into the newly formed Robertson County which formed in 1796 from Tennessee County which formed 1788 from old Davidson County, North Carolina. CC: William McKadow, James Drumgole.

  2. Lewis Barker [assignee of Samuel Griffis], 14 Oct 1802, warrant 203, Tennessee County, being 400 acres in Tennessee County west of the Cumberland Mountains on the Red River and joining the state line, McAdow, and Thomas Barker.

  3. William McAdow [assignee of Joshua Adcock], surveyed 11 Jul 1785, warrant 701, Davidson County, Tennessee being 274 acres on the south side of the Red River near the rocky spring and the Barrens. CC: Daniel Flanary, Thomas Barker.

  4. John Powers of Robertson Tennessee to Lewis Barker of same, (Deed A1-568, Logan KY), being 200 acres in the fork of the Red River, joining Thomas Barker to the west and Solomon Perkins to the east. Wit: Nathaniel Lacy, William McAdo.

  5. Thomas Barker of Robertson TN to Alexander Gordan of Logan, (Deed A1-578, Logan KY) being 200 acres in the Forks of the Red River in Logan County and joining the state line. Granted to the said Thomas Barker by the State of Kentucky 13 Aug 1797. Wit: James Gimbill, Edma Wilcox, Michael Troubough.

  6. Thomas Barker [assignee of Spilsby Tribble], 25 Jun 1808, warrant 1870, Hickman County, TN, being 30 acres on Tumbling Creek of Duck River, near said Barker’s land. CC: John McKinney,

  7. William Barker [assignee of Andrew Peddy], 24 Nov 1808, Hickman County TN, being 100 acres on Tumbling Creek of Duck River west of Thomas Barker’s northeast corner of his 100-acre tract including where John McKinney lives. CC: James Mc Kinney, John McKinney, William Wyatt.

  8. Thomas Barker, [assignee of Andrew Peddy], 24 Nov, 1808, Hickman County, Tennessee, being 180 acres on Tumbling Creek of Duck River, west of said Barker’s 30 acre entry. CC: John McKinney, William Wyatt.

  9. Thomas Barker [assignee of the heirs of Benjamin Pender], 24 Jun 1808, warrant 2871, being 100 acres joining Thomas Barker’s northeast corner including where John McKemmie lives.

  10. Lewis Barker [Assignee of Robert Weakley], 10 Jun 1809, warrant 96, West Tennessee, being 200 acres on Garners Creek including where sd. Barker lives and adjoining the lands of Benjamin Holland. [Note: ] CC: Young Barker, Samuel Haliburton.

    • Lewis Barker to James Alston, (Deed A-139, Hickman TN). Wit: William Wilson, Allen Barker.
  11. Drewery Barker [Assignee of Wm. T. Lewis], warrant 928, Hickman County, being 640 acres on Garners Creek of Piney River adjoining Lewis Barker’s Occupant claim. This entry was removed Mar 1810 by Drury Barker.

  12. Lewis Barker [assignee of the heirs of Benjamin Shepperd], 30 Jan 1817, warrant 1683, being 8 acres of sd. Shepperd’s 640 acres in Humphreys County joining said Barker on the Deer Creek, a fork of Richland Creek. CC: Young Barker, Allen Barker.

  13. Valentine Lucus, warrant 782, surveyed 24 Jul, being 228 acres on Spring Creek ¼ mile below a large spring.

    • Thomas Hampton to Minos Cannon of Guilford County NC, being the same land issued to Valentine Lucus (Deed A-76, Montgomery TN), 16 Aug 1791. Minos is father of Newton Cannon who was governor of Tennessee from 1835 to 1839.

By virtue of a dedimus from Logan County, Kentucky, in 1802, justices Andrew Peddy and Augustus Turner in Wake County, North Carolina, took depositions from Lewis Barker, Mark Barker, Thomas Hogson, and John Utley of that place. From my last post, John Utley in Wake County received a land grant for 300 acres, “being one half of a survey of land formerly made by Thomas Barker.” Furthermore, Mark Barker served as chain carrier for John Utley’s land grant for which the survey happens to locate “Tom Barker Branch.” All records hint that Thomas Barker on Red River TN is the same person though solid proof remains elusive. Furthermore, burning in the back of my mind, Joseph Thomas, and others in 1772 Wake County testified in a suit involving Henry Day and Joseph Cobb who both eventually disappear from the county. I’d like to know more about Henry Day though for Joseph Cobb, a deed filed in the County of Wake states that the said Cobb moved to Washington County TN, where I believe he ended up living with kinfolk who had already made the move west.  If so, the family was well off as their home served for a time as the residence of William Blount, Governor of the Southwest Territory. But hidden within the grandeur, Washington County was once the home of another fellow named Thomas Barker …and others. The following is immensely curios though is it possible this is the same Thomas Barker named in John Powers’ letter?

Dated 22 Feb 1779, Washington District (Tennessee) court records identify a person named Thomas Barker who at that time was charged for the serious crime of treason. “On hearing the facts, the court ord. [ordered] discharges.” The case appears to have been dropped though the American Revolutionary War was heating up and soon Britain’s southern campaign would be felt throughout the region. It was in this setting that the family of frontiersman John Sevier found home in the Watauga Settlements along the Nolichucky River. In early October 1780, Sevier was called upon to lead over 600 Overmountain men from the Washington district to face a Loyalist militia commanded by British Major Patrick Ferguson at the Battle of Kings Mountain, South Carolina. The American victory was pivotable and in returning to the mountains of now-Tennessee, a court entry appearing one month later offers a damning assessment:

“Nov 1780, Ord. that the Commissioners advertise and sell the properties of James Crawford and Thomas Barker, the sd. Crawford and Barker being found and taken in arms against the State. “

The above is found online in The King’s Mountain Men, written by Katherine Keogh White in 1924.  Katherine offers the following explanation for the court order:

(They were going to hang the said Crawford and Barker right after Kings’ Mountain battle, but Col. Sevier interceded for them and saved them.) John Sevier, Commissioner for 1781 made return that he sold two slaves that was confiscated from the estate of Thomas Barker at the price of thirty four hundred pounds and that he has the money to render unto the court.)

Of all things, it is noted that two slaves confiscated from the estate of Thomas Barker fell into the hands of Col. Sevier. Legally correct, following the war, properties of known Tories were confiscated and sold anew to fray the expenses realized in building the new nation. And mentioning “the estate of Thomas Barker,” did the said Thomas Barker in Washington County, Tennessee die in the period following the battle and before the court entry in November 1780 as indicated?  If so, and merely supposing, this cannot be the same Thomas Barker who, with wife Ann, is central in John Powers’ letter concerning the enslavement of free people of color from Wake County. Furthermore, a list of soldiers serving at the Battle of King’s Mountain names Charles Barker, Edmond Barker, Edward Barker, Enoch Barker, Henry Barker, Hezekiah Barker, and Joel Barker. Most of these men can be found in records of nearby Washington County in the state of Virginia.

But here, in Washington County, Tennessee, two “Slaves” from the estate of Thomas Barker ended up in the possession of John Sevier.  How very odd as twenty years later the same sort of scenario would occur again per John Powers’ letter. And yet, if that’s not enough to make one take notice, my jaw dropped in reading the following entry which appears in August 1782 Washington County, Tennessee:

“The Court Order that Mrs. Ann Barker wife of Thomas Barker who stands charged with joining the British was taken at Kings Mountain a prisoner, by the Americans after that his estate was Confiscated by the County Court of Washington— On her application in behalf of her Husband for Tryal by Jury the same is Accordingly Granted.”

Ann Barker? Shazaam! And yet, in the 1897 book Dropped Stitches in Tennessee History written by John Allison, Thomas Barker is romantically painted as being a noted Tory, one who took sides against his fellow mountaineers.  By rights Thomas Barker should have been hung though his life was spared through his friendship with John Sevier.  From the book:

“…Barker was released on his own recognizance, and never tried. Ruined in fortune, ostracized by friends, broken in spirit and in health, he could not endure his changed condition in life. He died soon after his release from prison, and the brave, faithful, noble but broken-hearted wife speedily followed her husband to the grave.”

The author tells of a little graveyard and of how memories had nearly disappeared.  The writing is wonderful, and I ask folks to take a minute to page search for Thomas Barker.  Don’t you think the narrative goes beyond what can be proven? It does appear in word that Thomas Barker died though could the mentions of his estate being confiscated refer to a banishment from his home in Washington County?

Could this be Thomas Barker, the son of William and Priscilla as proven in John Powers’ letter? Such a person could have maintained connections to his home in North Carolina and the details certainly align with the narrative as is revealed by John Powers. This Thomas Barker could also have gone west to the Yadkin and travelled beyond to the Western flanks of the Appalachian in Washington County, Tennessee. He could have served in the war, …maybe not the best choice of wording. And upon committing treason, he and his wife could easily have been banished though free and goodly people indentured to him suddenly had their lives redefined. Thomas and wife Ann Barker could have later moved further west to Robertson County, Tennessee and to Logan County, Kentucky.  Could such a scenario have happened?

Looking closer at Washington County, in 1779 Thomas Barker received 100 acres on the north side of Nolichucky River “including the plantation whereon he now lives.” The next entry is for 200 acres to John McAdow on Ballard’s Creek below Barker’s Bottom and —- upon both sides including said cabbin.”  About the same time, in September 1779, William Pruitt entered 640 acres for Col. John Sevier “on the north side of Nolichucky including Thomas Barker’s improvement.” In March 1778, Wm. McAdoo received 200 acres on the south side of Nolichucky River “above Barker’s Bottom.” He received another 200 acres on the opposite side of the river where Barker’s path crosses Sinking Creek.” Furthermore, in 1782 a person named Benjamin Holland received land nearby on Sinking Creek. Is this the same William McAdoo who later lived beside Thomas Barker in Robertson County, Tennessee? And, is Benjamin Holland living nearby somehow connected to Benjamin Holland who lived near the Barker family in Hickman County, Tennessee? There must surely be other connections which I believe warrants further research.

At the end of the day much remains uncertain concerning the Barker family as records reflect their move west. As quick as I am able to place members following the migration into a tree, I find something new calling into question thoughts I had just placed on paper. The following trees reflect my thinking based in part on research efforts by others. The illustration will hopefully garner reader push-back opening my eyes to thoughts I had not considered.

Before leaving this subject, I’d like to share two well-dispersed documents I’ve only recently come to see. First, a legal issue connecting family in Tennessee to the 1815 estate of Edmond Barker in Wake County, North Carolina rose to the level of the Supreme Court. Take time to read the case report and make sure to click on Larger Image Available. The documentation clarifies a bit of the family tree while connecting the descendants of Edmond Barker and Lewis Barker.  Note that descendants of Edmond Barker sold the enslaved Rachael to Zachariah, believed to be the son of Lewis Barker. And further note that a person named Young Barker served as representative for the sale.  Young Barker also served several times as chain bearer on behalf of Lewis Barker’s early land grants in Hickman and Humphreys Counties, Tennessee. And looking back to Wake County, Barker family, mostly in Tennessee, believe that Edmond Barker is the son of Joel Barker who I have not written much about. Exact relationship between the elder Joel Barker and William and wife Priscilla Barker is unknown.  However, note that Joel’s will does appear in 1779 Wake in which he names sons Edmond and Lewis …hence the relation is believed to be established.

Looking closer at records in Wake County, dated 12 Jan 1805, Edmond Barker sold to Lewis Barker 990 acres (Deed T-106, Wake) “situated on the waters of the Great White Oak Creek (which land was formerly the property of Shadrich Barker, dec’d), who was the father of said Edmond, also the use of the plantation where Edmond Barker now lives for the term of six years” Witnesses were And’w Peddy and Mark Barker. Rather than being the son of Joel Barker as believed by some, it is my belief that Edmond, the one who died ca. 1815, is the son of Shadrack. Brittain Barker above would have married his first cousin’s daughter Priscilla if I am correct. Furthermore, the young Priscilla Barker came by her name rightfully since both hers and her husband’s fathers are proven (per the 1804 letter) sons of William’s Priscilla. There would be no such need for honoring through the family of Joel Barker.  ….just a thought.

Lastly, the Barker family met all kinds of folks in their move west from Wake County.  Certainly, there were outlaws and pirates first camp meeting leading to the Second Great Awakening. One daughter’s husband fought the Indians and was laid to rest by the young Capt. Abraham Lincoln. The families hunted bear and pulled bullets from trees …and they operated a ferry.  They faced off against the Governor of Tennessee and yet little would be known if not for a family once free who were later enslaved. Amazing stuff! But before closing, I’d like to tell of one more eye-opening connection to the family and to those who settled our west.

One last story. Along the waters of White Oak Creek, Seth Utley was born the son of Burwell Sr. and Sarah Lashley Utley on 7 Oct 1789.  Ca. 1817 he, “along with two of his brothers, Able and Burwell, emigrated to Reynoldsburg, Stewart County (later Humphreys County), Tennessee.” They followed their Uncle Burwell Lashley. Note at this point that Seth Utley’s grandfather was John Utley, the same as he who testified in the 1804 letter written by John Powers.

Following 1835 teaching by Mormon missionaries (probably Patten and Parish), Seth became a pillar of the small Mormon community at Eagle Creek in Benton County, Tennessee, one of the first branches of the church in Tennessee. Then:

“On 19 June 1835, while Elders Patten and Parish and were staying at the home of Seth Utley, a mob of about 40 gathered around the Utley home. The sheriff produced a warrant for their arrest. The warrant was written on the urging of a local Methodist minister name Matthew Williams on the charge of making false prophesies. Seth Utley and Albert Petty put up the required bond of $2,000.

After a trial in which they were not allowed to testify or bring witnesses, they were declared guilty by the judge. Ultimately Elder’s Patten and Parish were told the case would be dismissed if they agreed to pay the court costs.

After they were released, they went back to Seth Utley’s home. When they arrived, they heard that a mob had gathered again angry that the missionaries had been released. Mounting their mules, they took a back route to Albert Petty’s home where they went to bed. They had not been asleep long when Elder Patten woke up Elder Parish, telling him that a heavenly messenger had warned him that the mob was near and that they should leave. When the mob arrived, the Elders had already left. But it was morning before they found the mule tracks. By then the Elders were long gone.”

Seth Utley was not the only one from earlier in Wake County who followed the Mormon teachings as in 1835, Wilford Woodruff “Rode to Lewis Barkers. Preached at his hous. Br Parrish Baptized 2 persons. Distance 6 miles.” And being the Forth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and founding father of the Mormon Academies, Wilford Woodruff made numerous missionary trips through Tennessee of which Lewis Barker’s home was a frequent stopping point.  Recorded far differently from what I could have imagined, folks from Wake County added substantially to the story of how the west was won.