THE STORM

The Daily Review, Wilmington N.C.
22 Feb 1884, Page 1.

In addition to the ravages of Tuesday night’s storm, we learn that its work of destruction was far more widespread and complete than we had anticipated. The loss of life becomes more and more fearful, the number of wounded is greatly increased, and the destruction to property almost incalculable. The force of the storm at Rockingham was upon a small hamlet, called Philadelphia, about two miles from the former place, consisting of about 20 houses, mostly inhabited by colored people. Of those every-one was blown to the ground and with these and others in the vicinity 40 houses were completely destroyed.

At Concord, in Cabarrus county, the storm was very severe, doing much damage to dwellings, stores trees and fences, but fortunately no lives were lost, although there were several remarkably narrow escapes. In the neighborhood of Pioneer Mills, in the same county, however, the storm was terrible and the work of destruction appalling. Nearly every house in that locality was demolished; many persons were seriously injured, and one colored woman was killed. All the trees in that neighborhood were blown down, and fences were scattered in every direction.

Near Lillington, in Harnett County, Mrs. Reuben Matthews, Mr. Merritt Overby, his wife and two sons were instantly killed, while another son of Mr. Overby was so seriously injured that his recovery is extremely doubtful. All of the houses on Mr. Overby’s premises were destroyed, as were all of those upon the premises of Messrs. John McDonald and John C. Upchurch in the same neighborhood.

At Wadesboro in Anson County, the damage was comparatively slight, although the wind blew with great violence. In other portions of the county, however, the devastation was terrible. We hear of five persons having been killed, and several wounded, while the destruction of buildings, trees and fences was very great. There remains hardly a building standing in the vicinity of Brown Creek, and on Mr. Wm. Little’s plantation 28 of the 30 houses were blown down. Two houses caught fire after they were wrecked, but the torrents of rain which were falling at the time soon extinguished the flames.

At Monroe, in Union County, the wind was fearful and the rain poured in torrents, but the damage was not great. In other portions of the county, however, the storm made fearful and fatal havoc. In Lane’s Creek Township, every house on the plantation of Mrs. Jane Broom including her residence, was blown down and Mrs. Brown was seriously and her daughter mortally wounded. Every building on the Widow Philmon’s place was destroyed, but with serious results to no one. The same may be said of the buildings on Mr. Buck Horton’s place, with the addition that himself and every member of his family were more or less seriously hurt. At Mr. Lewis Krimenger’s every building was destroyed, and his sister severely injured. The cows, geese, and chickens were killed. John Bivens, col., living on Mr. G. D. Allen’s place, had everything destroyed and himself and family were blown to the woods. Their clothing was torn from them and their hands and faces lacerated. At Mr. G. Allen’s every building was destroyed, and Mr. Allen and one child slightly injured. The geese and chickens on the yard were killed. Mr. Marley Griffin’s house was blown down and burned up, and MR. Griffin it is feared is mortally wounded.

In Goose Creek Township in the same county, the scenes above described were repeated. The storm began its work at Mr. Andy Fowler’s, everything was swept clean –houses, timber, fences, &c. Mr. Andy Fowler, dwelling destroyed; Mr. Jas. Fowler, kitchen blown down; Enoch Morgan, col., house blown down; H. M. Price, roof of house blown off; J. W. Pressley, house blown down; J. M. Guin, smoke house destroyed. Every house on Mr. Newton Presson’s premises was destroyed. After passing Mr. Presson’s it went through the plantation of Mrs. A. A. Price, blowing down one house; then Mr. Eli Rushing’s, where it unrooted his house; thence to Mrs. Sally Medlin’s, where it destroyed her buildings; thence to Jennie Tomberlin’s, where it destroyed her house, the inmates being injured, but we could not learn how severly; thence to Mr. Andrew Hargett’s where it completely laid flat all his buildings, consisting of one double dwelling house, smokehouse, barn, crib, and grain house. Jacob Mullis’ house, next in its tract, was blown away; thence to Mr. Robert Rushing’s, where it blew down abd burned everything he had except some clothing; it next stripped a house belonging to Mr. Jackson Mullis; passing on it blew Mr. Aaron Little’s house down the joist; then to Mr. Joseph Hager’s, where it blew once house down; then to the lands of MR. C. Hagler, where it destroyed all his building; thence to Mr. J. B. Tarlton’s where it blew down and carried away his buildings, consisting of one two story dwelling, barn, crib, shop, &c, then passing on it destroyed a house belonging to Mr. Samuel Mullis; it next blew down an outhouse and stable belonging to Mr. John Love; next the house of Mr. John Tarlton was blown down, and Dossey Williams’ house was blown down and burned.

At Winnsboro S. C., the storm was the severest ever known. Trees were uprooted by the hundreds and fences were demolished in all directions. At a small settlement thirteen miles from Winnsboro, the storm struck with terrific force completely demolishing fifteen houses, killing three negroes, names unknown, and an aged white lade named Mrs. Sterling, besides wounding several others severely. The house in which Mrs. Sterling resided was torn all to pieces. At the time the blow came her son and daughter were in the house with her. They were both blown out of the house and lodged in a large tree that was standing in the yard, escaping with severe bruises. Their aged mother was crushed to death in the falling timbers. The damage and losses about Winnsboro are calculated by the thousands.
Capt. Frank Lanier, lineman for the Southern Telegraph Company, reports that as he passed Woodward’s on the Charlotte, Columbia & Augusta Railroad, the remains of a negro man and his wife had just been extricated from the ruins of their demolished cabin. – Their bodies were terribly bruised and the mashed and their death must have occurred instantly.

A dispatch to the Florence, S/ C. Times says that the cyclone struck Darlington about 11:30 p. m. and demolished three houses, killing 4 outright and 15 wounded very seriously. Among the housed destroyed were R. W. Boyd’s, Mr. and Mrs. White’s, Mr. Chas. Edwards’ and several tenement houses occupied by colored people. Mr. and Mrs. White, an aged couple, Mr. White being paralyzed and Mrs. White blind, were found dead after the debris was cleared away. Tom Swinton ad Wm. Swinton’s wife were also killed outright. Mr. Swinton and daughter were fatally injured and are not expected to survive. Mr. R. W. Boyd was seriously injured and his son, Master Willie Fountain, who were the only occupants of the house, were slightly injured. The scene is one of wild confusion, the dead and dying are all over the town, and he wounded are being cared for.

In speaking of the terrible work of death and destruction near Rockingham, the Rocket says:

Wednesday morning we visited the scene of devastation, and revently we say, God grant that our eyes may never behold such another heart-sickening sight! The track of the cyclone was on an average about a quarter of a mile in width, and in its tract not a thing was left standingexcept the small shrubbery, and that was stripped of every limb and branch. Among the fallen trees and timbers of houses could be seen the dead ad mangled bodies of men, women, and children, while the eye could see in every direction, the carcasses of horses, cows, hogs, dogs cats, chickens, and even birds. Hanging on the bushes were shrouds of clothing, bedding, shoes, &c., which had been scattered by the tempest. It was a sight which can never be erased from the tablet of memory. Horrible! Yet ‘twas the hand of God that guided it.

MARSHVILLE, NC

History appearing on the town’s website tells of early settlers, the civil war, and reconstruction. Though all of these things were important in establishing the local population, the town of Marshville NC did not exist until the coming of the train in the 1870’s. The town was named for Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Marsh who donated land for both a Baptist church and the first town hall.

Who is the Marsh Family? Some have them going back to a Thomas and Eunice Lathorpe Marsh who lived and died in Connecticut. Their children are believed to be Ebenezer, John, Solomon, and Thomas Marsh Junior.

I’ve not researched this family much, but find it interesting that in the 1790’s Thomas Marsh (of Anson NC) and wife Elizabeth sold land on Caldwell Creek (Deed 1-2, Cabarrus NC). The transaction was witnessed by Ebenezer and Solomon Marsh. And, Ebenezer sold three tracts including land near Midland as well as land on the east bank of Rocky River and on Little Meadow Creek near what became Reed gold mine. Thomas Marsh purchased land along Lane’s Creek in Anson County early in the 1790’s. His brothers made the move there by century’s end. Also making the move from Cabarrus was Malachi Watts, Ebenezer Marsh’s next door neighbor on Little Meadow Creek.

Back to Marshville, the official history offers little prior to the town’s creation. This may change as I recently came across an unusually large land grant which will surely add to the story. Entered in Aug 1784, Edward Brown was issued a land grant of 3400 acres spanning the Big Mouth Branch and Lick Branch on Lane’s Creek to Negrohead Creek along with its tributary called the Bridge Branch. From the survey made in 1788, Edward Brown likely surveyed his own land as he initialed D.S, meaning deputy surveyor. Josiah and Zedekiah White served as chainbearers.

I’d love to learn more about Edward Brown. Is he related to the Brown family out of Maryland? Is he the same Edward Brown who is said to have been a Baptist preacher in the area of Crooked Creek? Also, about the survey plat, note that the Mecklenburg Road runs through the tract.

The streams drawn in the above makes it easy to locate this land. Below, I’ve oriented and overlaid the plat to a present road map. It fits though I could easily be off a bit here and there. Also, note that Lawyers Road cuts across the plat east to west. This is likely the Mecklenburg Road that Edward Brown located in his 1788 survey.

 

This is all a rough draft and I’m sure it needs to be looked at more closely. There are also land deeds showing how the supersized grant was divided up. And, there’s a need to understand more about this first generation of settler who lived on land we now call Marshville.

THIS IS ONLY ONE FAMILY

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Winding my way through Union and upper Anson Counties, it feels like home. I quickly get the since that I’m surrounded by many who I can rightfully call cousin. There are so many and yet all of these folks are descendants from just one couple, Benjamin Thomas and his wife whose name is yet unknown. This makes me wonder of Benjamin, of his brothers and sisters, cousins and extended family living somewhere else prior to his coming to Anson County. Where are they?

For years, actually forever in my life, such thoughts were but a dream. However, recent testing of my Y DNA was matched spot on by a distant cousin whose family grew out of Moore County NC. Dan’s ancestor in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s was named John Thomas who married Mary Oaks in Wake County. Like me,  Dan too wonders about his family. He wonders about where they lived, where they went to church and what forces led them to move about within the community.

Yesterday I came across a wonderful article in our state’s regional Baptist newspaper called the Biblical Recorder. The following is a memorial from that paper to John and Mary’s son Tillman Thomas and his wife Harriet Judd. Note that Tillman is the brother of Dan’s ancestor who is also named Daniel:

A Remarkable Family.
Editor Recorder-
The Biblical Recorder, Raleigh, NC, 9 August 1899, Page 6
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The elder brethren of the Raleigh Association, as well as those of the Little River, may remember the name Tillman Thomas, who was often delegate to those bodies from Juniper Springs (formerly Muddy Springs) church. This venerable man was for many years a deacon and influential member of the above named church.

Brother Thomas died in 1885, but he has left behind an offspring which reminds us, in some ways, of the beginning of the tribes of Israel. His widow, Mrs. Harriet Thomas, is still living and is now in her 91st year. Her health is remarkably good for one of her age. She enjoys company, and her eyes sometimes sparkle with a merriment akin to childhood. She has been for nearly seventy years a member of the same church to which her husband belonged.

To these good people were born twelve children. Two died in childhood. Two others died in later years. Of theeight now living the youngest is in her 49th year. Three of the sons of the venerable couple are, and have been for several years, deacons in the church of their parents. All of the 10 who lived to maturity united with the same church. To these 10 were born 92 children, of whom 55 are or have been members of the church with their parents. Of all the descendants 83 have united with some church, most of them with Juniper Springs.

There are five generations of this family now living. Mrs. Thomas has living 8 children, 77 grandchildren, 154 great-grandchildren and 4 great-great-grandchildren, making 243. There are dead of all 40, making a total of the dead and living, 283.

Is it any wonder that when our brethren come to Juniper Springs they expect to find a pleasant home with “brother Thomas?”

P. S. –This is only one family of the Thomases.

S. W. Oldham
Grotto, N.C., July 10, 1899.

All I can say is wow! Back in 1899, the newspaper editor had a similar view of the family as do Dan and me. He lays out all the numbers, concluding with the thought that this represents but one of many families. There are more!

In writing this post I made the trip today down to Juniper Springs Baptist church. There is actually not a huge number of Thomas family represented in that church cemetery. However, just up the road, Tillman and family can instead be found at Baptist Chapel Baptist church. Let me share what I found along with some of the questions that peaked my mind’s interest…

First, looking above at the church sign, the founding date is 1913. What is its history prior to founding as Tillman was buried on the property in 1885, more than thirty years prior.

Looking at the graves of Tillman and Harriett, note that they are modern foot markers likely placed in the past twenty years. Also, Harriet’s maiden name is known through records to be Harriet Malinda Judd, whose brother Henderson was murdered by the KKK for intermarrying with a black woman. The stone for Harriet reads Harriett J Thomas. Also, her husband is known in some accounts as William Tillman Thomas and in others as Henry Tillman Thomas. His stone reads Henry Tillman Thomas.

Looking online at find-a-grave, there is an image of a much older stone in the name of Harriet Thomas whose husband is identified as T. Thomas. I looked over both Baptist Chapel and Juniper Springs and did not find the stone …it’s gone. Below is the photo from find-a-grave and know that the dates work. This is certainly Tillman’s wife.

 

 

Note in the image a fence corner in the upper left and also a marker in the background with stone finial. There’s only one such stone in the graveyard and it marks the resting place of Harriet’s son Jefferson.

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Today I took a photo of the markers for Tillman and Harriet along with the fence and background markers. Below you can see that photo beside another in which the stone of Harriet Thomas is overlaid. It works, as the background images are close to what they were in the original photo showing only Harriett’s stone. From this I know the stone was destroyed or for some reason removed.

 

 

A REMARKABLE MAN

Herein is but one of several publicized articles on Uncle William Whitley who is at rest in a family cemetery  near the river on Garmon Mill road.

Monroe Enquirer and Express
Published in the North Carolina Herald, Salisbury NC,
Wednesday, 13 Feb 1889, page one

Dr, E. R. Burris, of Rocky River Springs, Stanly County, was in Monroe this week, and on his way to this place stopped over last Sunday at the residence of his Grandfather, William Whitley, who lives near Locust Level, Stanly County. Mr. Whitley, is, in many respects, a remarkable man, and Dr. Burris gives us some interesting facts and reminiscences in regard to him.

Mr. Whitley claims to be one hundred and fifteen years old, and there is sufficient proof to show that he is at least one hundred and thirteen, and very likely on hundred and fifteen years old. He married, and has a son-in-law, Dr. Burris’ father, who is eighty-five years old, and Mrs. Burris, Mr Whitley’s daughter is only a year or two younger.

He has always been very healthy, and has never had the services of a physician but once in his life, and did not take any medicine. He is still able to walk around the house, and has been doing some work in his garden this winter. His general health is good, but his memory, especially in reference to recent occurrences is a little defective. When asked what his politics were, he replied that he was a whig, and expected to remain one as long as he lived.

He related some interesting reminiscences of his early life, and says he remembers seeing the soldiers going home from the revolutionary war, when he was a small child. Indians, he says were growing up, and wolves and bears were occasionally seen. HE says he has, during his long life, killed one-hundred and fifteen deer. Whitley has a great many descendants living, among them ten or twelve great-great-grandchildren, the oldest of them being about ten years old.

Dr. Burris showed us a pocket book belonging to Mr. Whitley, which was given to him by his father when Mr. Whitley was a small boy. It was then an old book. It is about six inches long and three wide. The sides were made of thine boards of wood, covered with leather. Some very old papers were found in it, which Dr. Burris showed us. Among them was a note, given in 1779, and which, up to date, has not been paid. The following is an exact copy of the note.

State of North Carolina Montgomery County this 19 July 1779 on or Before Chrismus I promus to pay or cause to be paid unto George Whitely or his order the sum of fore punds good and Lawful Money of this State it being for value of him Re’d as witness My hand and seal. THOMAS RIGGSBY. Test John Mainard.

The note was given to Mr. William Whitley’s father. There were also in the book tax receipts for the years 1814, 1816, 1818, and 1820. These receipts were given to William Whitley. The following is a copy of one for 1814: Re’d of William Whitley his tax in full for the year 1814 – I say Re’d by me. K. Pennington.

ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER

115About this time last year, I had the chance to attend the 300th Anniversary Celebration of Indian Woods which is located in Bertie County, North Carolina. The three day conference at historic Hope Plantation focused on the lives of the Tuscarora Indians and their unfortunate demise over time as a result of war, social divisions, and finally the forced collapse of their Indian Woods homeland by external pressures. Participants in the conference had the opportunity to learn from many of the remaining descendants. We were immersed in Native American history, as well as being introduced to the realities of growing up as tri-racial Indians. The conference was led by Dr. Larry Tise, an East Carolina University distinguished professor of history, who is also well known for his knowledge of the Wright Brothers including a recent research initiative into their first secretive flights:  https://player.pbs.org/viralplayer/1839215537/

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Following the conclusion of the Tuscarora Wars, a number of these great people remained in the area of Bertie County where their descendants folded into the fabric of today’s down-east North Carolina. The rest, those who fought against and fell to the advances of early English settlement, were forced to remove north to a reservation located near Niagara Falls, New York. The most heartwarming aspect of this conference was in witnessing the coming together of these two distant bands of people and being a part of their sharing of heritage.

Some of what I learned about Tuscaroran history was built upon gleanings from an unusual source, the notes and journal of a Mr. August Gottlieb Spangenburg. In the 1740’s, Spangenburg toured Bertie County in search of a 100,000 acre tract of clear land suitable for establishing a settlement of Moravians. Eventually the Moravians chose an area they called Wachovia in present day Stokes County. Now known by the settlement’s early towns of Bethabara, Bethania, and Winston-Salem, it was in this same area that yet another group of people chose to settle in the late 1700’s. These were Methodists spreading west and then south out of Virginia. They first broke bread in town taverns, in contrast to the local Moravians who attended morning worship in their own properly constructed churches. These Methodists were plotting their own expansion, as had Spangenburg and the Moravians. It was in this mix that my ancestor James Love founded a Methodist church on the waters of Muddy Creek. As occurred for the Moravians in the writings of Spangenburg, Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury introduces us to early Methodism in western North Carolina. In 1799 Love’s Church was visited by Bishop Francis Asbury who wrote in his diary:

We rode through Stokes County, and attended meeting at Love’s Church, which has glass windows and a yard fenced in. After Jesse Lee, I added a few words on Hebrews ii, 1. We then came to William Jeans near the Moravian old town.

Turning our attention back to the conference at Hope plantation, we had a great time in both study and fellowship. For me, it was a wonderful opportunity and marked my “jumping off point” into a more devoted study of history following my recent retirement from the Crafts Center at NC State University. The conference gave us all the opportunity to break bread daily around tables at the Conference/Welcome Center. We even joined in the traditional task of shucking Indian corn! It was in this setting that I had the opportunity to share some of my own stories with Dr. Tise.

love2

ca. 1966 – Love UMC, Walkertown NC

We live in a small world, truly, because, as it turns out, Dr. Tise is a native of Winston-Salem with his spiritual life beginning at Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church. He became a local preacher while studying at Duke University and upon completion of an undergraduate degree in history, and prior to his graduate studies, Dr. Tise was asked to research and prepare an authoritative history of Love’s Church. Wow, is this the Love’s Methodist Church that I’ve read about?!! Is this the church founded by my ancestor James Love? Yes, indeed it is!

love's methodist
The history of Love’s Church, A House Not Made With Hands, was published in 1966 in observance of the 175th Anniversary of Love’s Church. It was during his research and stay at Love’s Methodist Church that Dr. Tise realized history was his true passion and calling. Without his Methodist roots, and without this wonderful initial experience, Dr. Tise may not have ended up to be the person he is today. Without any or all of the above, I would likely have not attended the conference on the early North Carolina Indians. It simply may not have happened at all.

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From Chapter II: Seed Time and the First Harvest, 1791-1807:

When one seeks for the founding date of a church such as Love’s, one speaks of a parcel of historical data which perhaps can never be pinpointed. …Churches simply are not and were not established at a particular point in time. They grow out of small, unpretentious beginnings and out of informal gatherings. They occur because there is a local personal need for religious experience.

The above acknowledges the “seeding” and germination time wherein the most important challenges facing a church lie. It’s during this time that greatness seemingly sprouts from out of nowhere. As for my family, James Love is in many ways our “seed.” Before him we know very little. And without him, there would be no Love’s Church. I would not be here and neither would many others.

I’m very appreciative of Dr. Tise and of what his writings have taught me. In 1966, he was limited by the availability of records and little was known at that time about the founding families of Love’s Church. Today, we know much more about James Love who first came to the Stokes County settlement now known as Walkertown. We know of his beginning and of his descendants who carried on the family traditions in the Methodist church.

Just as actions in early Bertie County spun off and impacted the future we now live in, Love’s Methodist Church in Stokes County, NC was a seed from which other churches have taken root. The following are offshoot churches bearing our family name of Love:

Love’s Chapel Methodist – founded by James Love, son of John Love who is the son of the above James Love. This church is no longer standing though the cemetery survives in Loogootee, Martin County, Indiana

Loves Church – for this one, I’m not even sure exactly where, though I’ve heard there is a Love Methodist Church in Missouri which sprang from the family who moved from Stokes County, NC to Indiana

Love’s (or Mount Moriah) Methodist – founded by James Love Junior, the son of James Love Senior who founded Love Methodist in Stokes County NC. Struck by lightning and burned in the 1860’s, this church was once located within stone’s throw from Reed gold mine near the intersection of Hartsell and Reed Mine Roads in Cabarrus County. The only thing surviving is the church cemetery with but a few marked graves

Love’s Chapel United Methodist – founded by Jonah Love, the son of the above James Love Junior. This church is located in Stanfield, Stanly County

Love’s Grove United Methodist – founded by Phoebe Love, daughter of Thomas love, son of the above James Love Junior. This church is located in Stanly County on Rene Ford Road.

TROUBLES IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

In this post I’m finally powering up in preparation of working an area of Anson County that I’ve dreaded. It’s a place where land disputes gave rise to one of the most impactful Supreme Court Cases I’ve seen. I become exhausted reading through the more than 75 pages of deposition. That, and there’s the accompanying survey plat that’s one of the most extensive I’ve ever viewed. Already hesitant to wrap my mind around the aforementioned case, again this week I stumbled across yet another legal action, further expanding the scope of this story.

Early on, Anson and Mecklenburg Counties joined in what is now eastern Union County. And, in the western edge of old Anson flowed a stream by name of Negrohead branch. It emptied into Richardson Creek from the south.

Recently changed to Salem Branch, local lore says the stream may have been named for a slave whose head was piked as warning to others. However, a more plausible origin can be found in the large blackish rocks lining the creek banks. The rocks may be the same type as those my dad always referred to as “bullhead rocks.” In all of this, and for sake of civility, I’m simply glad that the stream name has recently been changed to Salem Branch. Please note that I’ll continue to use the term Negrohead in this post as it’s the name used officially in historic documentation. I mean no disrespect.

Looking first at the case I found this week, I hope you will take time to study the survey plat along with the legal land descriptions that follow. And while in your studies I ask that you put yourself in my place. Knowing that it’s my goal to reconstruct the land records of early Upper Anson County, imagine the effort it’s going to take to rejoin and make sense of such convoluted title history. My concerns are rooted in the effort needed to make sense of all this while realizing some mistakes were legally dealt with while others were resolved simply with the passing of a buck or shake of the hand. I’m not alone in my troubles as I am only walking the path of mistakes made by others in the distant past. Whether based in greed or some simple mathematical error, ancient mistakes in calculating or recording land have a way of wreaking havoc on our understanding of the past.

The below is found in the Union County civil action papers relating to issues of land. In this case John E. Austin who was born in Wake County, the son of Charles and Phereby Bunch Austin, intended to sell several granted and otherwise deeded lands. The buyer was Simeon D. Pembleton who on 6 May 1851 married nearby Mary A. Treadway, daughter of John Treadway. I’d never bring up this extraneous information though a Google search of Simeon netted an interesting story titled “Counterfeiters for the Good.” From a newspaper article concerning runaway slaves Simeon D. Pembleton is mentioned thusly:

“No doubt now remains but Simeon D. Pemberton, of Anson County, is the rascal who procured these passes for my negroes. It may be that the counterfeiter, Geasling, of Rockingham County, who was whipped and imprisoned at Wadesborough, wrote one of the passes.”

Now, let’s get back to the land transaction between the above John E. Austin and Simeon D. Pembleton. Because several of the tracts granted impose on others and also due to a complicated title history, it was ordered by court hat a survey be made. The plat and legal descriptions are as follows:

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Below is a map showing the fork of Zachs Branch along with its location on the run of Negrohead branch. Before moving forward realize that today the Creek is called Jack’s Branch. And, in the early Union County map the branch is identified as Jackson Branch. Must of the land grants identify the branch as Zacks with but one or two tracts being identified as lying on Jacks. The above lies within the area tinted red. Downstream I’ve tinted the map yellow. The following case resolved in the North Carolina Supreme Court involves much of the land tinted yellow:

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Now let’s look at a survey plat of land concerns from the Supreme Court case Ennis Staton vs. Jacob Mullis. When looking at the following image note that many years ago I went through the file and remember seeing a fabulously water colored original that is no longer there. The below is a printed copy from the officially bound North Carolina Supreme Court Records.

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Does this look complicated?  Take a look at the brief heading description for this case:

Deed, Construction of–Color of Title–Adverse possession –Estoppel
–Burdon of Proof—Possession–Description and Location

To get an idea of the complexity, I’ll leave you with the following. It’s just one of many pages within the case records.

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WAS IT THE GOLD?

Settling in Anson/Union County NC, early land records locate my Thomas family as living in the area of Gourdvine Creek east towards the waters of Cribbs and Pine Log Branches. That’s old news. But, to the west beyond Negrohead Creek (now Salem Creek) lived John Thomas who came to Anson County from Chatham County NC. From DNA we know that John Thomas is not related to our family. We also know John Thomas served in the Revolutionary War and after that moved to Anson County where he lived on Schoolhouse branch of Mill Creek which is close to the old Mecklenburg County line. There’s only one surviving record linking my family to the neighborhood in which this John Thomas lived. And, as it always goes, it’s an important one, opening up possibilities I still don’t fully understand. Let’s take a look.

Dated 11 Oct 1819, Benjamin Thomas and wife Rebecca of Anson sold to Jesse Bryant 200 acres (Deed x-85, Anson NC ) This land was situated on “one side of Retherford (Rutherford/Weatherford Branch) …beginning at James Jenkins corner …to a rock by three red oaks in Pinion’s line.” Witnesses are John Mullis and Edward Vann:

ben and rebecca

I’ve yet to find a record showing how Benjamin Thomas acquired the above land. Likewise, I’ve found nothing further on how Jesse Bryant disposed of the same. However, years ago I was able to help others confirm that a Jesse Bryant who moved to Pulaski County Georgia is the same person as he who purchased the above land from Benjamin Thomas. And in that find I’ve yet to find anything of importance to our family.

So, …who was Benjamin Thomas? And, who was Rebecca? It’s possible this Benjamin is our patriarch who is believed to have been born in the 1750’s. It’s possible, though no real proof exists, that this Benjamin Thomas died ca. 1833 and is buried in what we know to be the Thomas Cemetery near Charity Ford of Richardson Creek.

It is also possible and even more likely that the above conveyance was made by his son, Benjamin Thomas Junior and a first wife we believe (from this record only) to be named Rebecca. We know for sure that Benjamin Junior owned land just above Charity Ford situated north of Richardson Creek and east of Stegall Branch. It’s also known that Edward Vann earlier from Martin County NC owned land nearby.

Note that in the deed, N. B. Jenkins and Thomas Griffin Esq were “appointed to take the private examination of Rebecca Thomas as to her free and voluntary consent in the execution of the written deed.” Was this dower land or land that had been received through bequeathal? What was Rebecca’s interest? If this is Benjamin Thomas Junior, why or what reason led to his moving beyond the family stomping ground to somehow acquire land just to the west along Weatherford’s Branch? It’s always been a mystery.

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Today I came across another land record connecting my family to Weatherford Branch. And, from past posts you’ll hopefully know that my Great-great grandmother is Allice or Alla Newsom, wife of David Thomas. Alice’s mother is Christian Barnes who likely married Joseph Newsom in Northeast NC. They lived along Gourdvine Creek near the present day Edmond Davis Cemetery. Also living nearby was William Barmes, the brother of my Great-great grandmother Christian Barnes Newsom. William Barnes owned tracts of land scatted along Richardson Creek between Gourdvine and Negrohead (now Salem) branches.

It is said that William Barnes acquired land, salted it with gold and then sold he land at high price before moving to Arkansas. Proof of this has eluded me though deeds at the time of William Barnes’ removal provide fairly strong hints. There must be more and today I stumbled across the record I should have found and seen years ago.

Dated 12 Oct 1822, William Barnes purchased an undefined quantity of land being “as broad as is necessary for hunting gold containing thr’eed acres.” This is pretty cool as the date of 1822 predates much of the hype found in early papers. It may be the earliest mention of gold hunting in the annals of Anson County.

Now, as for the deed, the bounds as seen below ran the “various courses of Pinion’s Branch to Withiride (Weatherford) Branch.

barnes gold

What really excites me in all of this is the similarities in location of Benjamin Thomas’ deed with that found in William Barnes.’ We now know that in 1822 William Barnes was going out purely for gold on the waters of Weatherford near Pinion and Jenkins. Also, and being 3 years earlier, Benjamin Thomas and wife Rebecca sold 250 acres in the same vicinity. That was the same land or very close to where William Barnes would later hunt gold. And, we know William Barnes’ family married into the family of Benjamin Thomas Junior.

Gold is at the root of many things and here I wonder when its influence swept through the lands along Rocky River. When he sold his land, did Benjamin Thomas have any idea he was sitting on a potential gold mine? We still don’t have the answers though now we have more ideas on what may have been.