A Journey to Hagler’s Ford

- Mt. Pleasant road bridge over Rocky River. Prior to the bridge, Hagler's Ford crossed the river at the same location.

– Mt. Pleasant road bridge over Rocky River. Prior to the bridge, Hagler’s Ford crossed the river at the same location.

I remember years ago being excited in finding an 1810’s attendance record for Methodist churches in the area of Rocky River.  The piece of paper is lost and its details have gone the way of bad memory.  But I’ll never forget that one of the churches listed was called “Love’s.” Likely being Mt. Moriah on James Love’s land, Moriah church was laid down in the 1860’s following destruction by lightning.  Another church on the list was identified as “Tucker’s.” No map nor other record was to be found locating the church.  The proverbial glove dropped and the hunt was on, I wanted to find this church!

The initial google search netted “Tucker cemetery” located on the southwest side of Rocky and west of Edgefield Road.  I found the cemetery and noted those whose graves survive.  It’s clear why it had become known as Tucker cemetery, but where is the church and what record could be found to support it being there? 

Finding another clue in a query board post, I emailed the contact and arranged to meet him on Smith Road on the east side of Rocky River. Following a scenic hike through the woods, we reached a really old cemetery not far from the river bank. I knew George Tucker, the daddy of all Tuckers, lived on the east side of Rocky River just upstream from James Love.  Owning land on both sides of the river, this cemetery was located in the northern extent of ol’ George Tucker’s home tract. Though this could be the location of Tucker church, there’s no real proof that it’s so.  More on this interesting cemetery in a later post as for now my contact was pointing me to yet another possibility.

Located on the east side of Mt. Pleasant Road, and just north of the river crossing, there exists an old cemetery.  I was warned to be careful going to it as the land backed up to the hunting club accessed on Smith Road. The land owner had discovered the cemetery while posting the property for no trespassing. Several rows of graves had been identified and it was concluded that even more rows may have been destroyed years ago when the road had been cut deeper and widened.

- One of the graves located near Rocky River along Mt. Pleasant Road.

– One of the graves located near Rocky River along Mt. Pleasant Road.

I phoned the land owner and the next morning headed to Mt Pleasant road to walk the land myself.  Starting at the north end of the bridge where the road crosses the river, I hiked through briers up the hill along the top edge of the red clay road bank. Less than a hundred feet away I came upon the grave sites. For sake of location, the photo below was taken with the camera duly resting upon the northwest corner of the bridge. Looking north on Mount Pleasant Road, I have placed a yellow arrow pointing in the woods pointing towards the grave site. Note the mail boxes.

- Likely location of the Hagler Family Cemetery on Mt. Pleasant Road.

– Likely location of the Hagler Family Cemetery on Mt. Pleasant Road.

 Just as you step into the woods, it is easy to recognize the signatures of an old graveyard. There are slightly sunken areas about five feet apart. The first row runs slightly diagonal to the road. The last grave is very close to the road cut indicating road work may have once cut this cemetery in two. Not all the graves are marked with stones, but most are. They are all smaller stones of a tradition common to older back wood graveyards. The graves are marked with stones at both the foot and head. No identification or writing exists on the stones.

 

On most any weekend for years, you could find the back tables at the old NC State Archives filled in fellowship shared amongst a group of similarly minded researchers.  One of those is a good friend named John Blair Hagler also of Raleigh who plowed similar records in both family and location.  I remember telling John about the cemetery and he was ecstatic. He knew about the cemetery through family stories but had never seen it and had honestly forgotten about it. The following is what John told me about the cemetery:

My grandmother Hagler was a daughter of Mary Laura Shelton who was a widow living in Concord who in 1909 married the widower Adam M. Furr and they lived on his farm that joined St. Martins Lutheran Church on land that originally belonged to John the cripple Hagler on Rocky River.

Mary Laura had a daughter who worked in a cotton mill and boarded in Concord and she had two daughters and a son. The daughters were Ginger and Raynell and the son`s name was Hugh. And these children were more or less raised by Mary Laura and Adam Furr down on Rocky River.

 Thomas J. Shinn, Jr. was a farmer who lived on the south side of the river and he had electricty. He`d invite the neighbors to his house on Saturday evenings to listen to the radio. Hugh and his sisters always went. But Hugh always walked on the far west side of the road because he was afraid to walk on the east side with his sisters because it was nearer a cemetery he knew about and Hugh was always afraid of anything that had to do with death.  

In addition to this account, descendants of Thomas Shinn passed down that the cemetery had been a burial grounds for slaves. Though slaves may have been buried in the cemetery, I strongly believe its origins tell another story.  Let’s dig deeper…

__________________________

So, here’s the big picture.   There was a fellow named John Hagler II who was also known in records as John the Cripple. Born ca. 1740, he married Catherine Seitz and died prior to the July 1811 probation of his last will and testament. And as witnessed by a surviving estate record and division plat, John’s wife lived until ca. 1826. Much of their estate fell into the hands of son Charles Hagler who lost all due to indebtedness. Charles’s son Nelson paid the debt and regained ownership after returning ca. 1850’s from the gold fields in California.

Looking even further back, in the summer of 1779, Henry Sides entered land for a Secretary of State land grant, being 100 acres “joining John Hagler land.” John Hagler is not recorded as a landowner until being granted 100 acres in 1784 identified as “the place where he lived including all his improvements.” This “home tract” straddles present day Mt. Pleasant Road and adjoins the lands of Henry Sides on the north bank of the Rocky River.  Knowing John Hagler was married to Catherine Seitz, how was she related to her next door neighbor Henry Sides?  [for answer, see comment by Anna Hagler Melvin]

Cripple John Hagler would go on to acquire much more land.  In 1798 he purchased the home tract of Henry Sides, indicating Henry had moved away.  John Hagler’s lands eventually took in tracts 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 as seen on my plat map of the area: http://www.angelfire.com/nc/benjthomasofansonnc/northeastmap.html . To see the land descriptions and explore deeper into Cripple John’s connection with his neighbors, I strongly encourage you to print and spend a little time relating the plat map to its related legal descriptions: http://www.angelfire.com/nc/benjthomasofansonnc/northeastword.html

While looking at the map, also notice entry #9 that was granted December 1820 “for the use of the meeting house joining the heirs of John Hagler, dec’d. Had church meetings met in the area prior to a church being built per this grant? Note that this land is now the home of St. Martin’s Lutheran Church.

As already discussed, a major road for the day ran directly through Cripple John’s land, crossing the river near the present day path of Mt. Pleasant Road. Predating the bridge, early maps from the late 1700’s through the mid1800’s identify the crossing as “Hagler’s Ford.”

Raised Lutheran, the Hagler family is mentioned numerous times in various church records. During the 1790’s, Rev. A. N. Marcard recorded several baptisms and a burial at the “Rake River Cressen.”  Found in the records of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Rev. Marcard frequently provided such service to smaller churches that, for whatever reason, were without ministers. And in the early 1800’s, Rev. David Henkel, a traveling Lutheran minister, made his way through now Stanly and Cabarrus Counties.  Though I’ve lost my copy of the record, Rev. Henkel’s diary provides valuable insight to the family of John the Cripple.  He tells of both preaching and baptisms at the home of “Widow Hagler” along Rocky River. [please read post comments by Anna Hagler Melvin.   She has provided pertinent background and records from her copy of the Henkel diary.] 

So, before land was formally granted for the construction of the nearby meeting house known as St. Martin’s, worship meetings were taking place in the home of John the Cripple.   And also before the construction of the meeting house, John Hagler II was likely buried on his home tract.  Located near the wagon road overlooking the “Rake River,” he was buried on a pleasing spot reachable to his widow who spent the remaining years of her life on the land. The crude grave markers we see today tell the story of age and of a time where proper stones were few and far between. The graves also tell us of the slaves and families who later worked the land. 

Meetings at the home of “widow Hagler” not only continued to serve her personal walk, they also helped to light a fire in the surrounding community.  As she faltered, the timing of records indicate the community took the appropriate actions and built a church from beginnings she may have helped start. There was no further need for proper burials at the Hagler place along the river as St. Martin’s Lutheran church had become the new home of faith …and burials.

In the end, I think what was first the Hagler family cemetery later became a burial ground for slaves before becoming an abandoned cemetery that scared little boys who passed by.

And as for Tucker’s Church, its location is still uncertain.

11 thoughts on “A Journey to Hagler’s Ford

  1. Anna Hagler Melvin

    Reference Diary of Rev. David Henkel 1812-1830
    Original Copy owned by Elon G Henkel, New Market, Va.
    Copied by Rev. L. L. Lohr, Lincolnton, N C in 1915
    Elbert Ivey Memorial Library, Hickory, NC

    From this diary we learn that Rev. Henkel preached in both English and German, often on the same day. He traveled through Piedmont North Carolina and the upper part of South Carolina preaching, conducting marriages, funerals, baptisms, confirmations and teaching . References to Widow Haigler/Hagler follow:

    Note: Catherine Seitz/Sides Hagler (1740-1826), wife of John Hagler II was the daughter of Johannes H Seitz (1708-1766) and Dorthea E Fletzinger (1714-1765).

    December 1819
    Wednesday, 22nd. At the widow Haigler’s Cabarrus County and baptized 1 infant. Page 30

    February 1820
    Wednesday, 23rd. At the widow Haigler’s Cabarrus County and baptized 2 infants. Page 31

    May 1820
    Sunday 7th. Preached at widow Haigler’s and baptized 6 infants. In the evening at Silas B. Shin’s Esq. and baptized 2 adults and 6 infants. Page 32

    August 1820
    Tuesday 1st. At widow Hagler’s and baptized 1 infant. Page 33
    Wednesday 29th. At widow Hagler’s and baptized 1 infant. Page 33

    October 1820
    Sunday 8th. At widow Hagler’s. On Monday following and succeeding week, catechising at Ephert’s.
    Page 34

    December 1820
    Wednesday 6th. At widow Hagler’s and baptized 1 infant. Page 35

    January 1821
    Sunday 28th. Near widow Hagler’s. Page 35

    June 1821
    Tuesday 5th. At widow Hagler’s and baptized 1 adult and 1 infant. Page 37
    Friday 29th. At widow Shin’s. A funeral sermon the Silas B. Shin. Page 37

    July 1821
    Sunday 1st. At widow Hagler’s and baptized 1infant. Page 37

    August 1821
    Wednesday 8th. At widow Hagler’s. Page 38
    Thursday 9th. At widow Hagler’s and baptized 2 adults. Page 38
    Saturday 11th. I baptized 1 infant for Wm. Hagler Jr. Page 38

    September 1821
    Sunday 30th. At widow Hagler’s and baptized 1 infant and 1 adult, and confirmed 23 persons. Page 38
    Monday 31st. At Widow Hagler’s and baptized 2 infants and administered the Lord’s Supper. Page 38

    December 1821
    Wednesday 26th. At Widow Hagler’s. Baptized 4 adults and 6 infants. Page 40

    January 1822
    Sunday 27th. At Widow Hagler’s. Page 41
    Monday 28th. A funeral sermon for Mr. Hahn and baptized 1 child. Page 41

    March 1822
    Wednesday 13th. At Widow Hagler’s. Page 41

    Note: Widow Hagler’s estate was settled in 1826.
    Contributed by Anna Hagler Melvin, GGG Granddaughter of John Hagler II and Catherine Seitz/Sides Hagler.

    Reply
    1. John Blair Hagler

      Two or three things, George!
      “So, here`s the big picture….” True that there is no mention of cripple John owning land until the 100 acre grant of 1784 and that`s because the records were destroyed by the Cabarrus County court house fire which destroyed earlier land records..

      According to his will, John II left his land to his wife and after her death to 3 of his 5 sons. The 3 sons were Charles, Lenoard and Jacob. The two who were not left anything were John and Peter. While their father lived he was very generous to these two sons and they were married and settled.

      By the time that Catherine S. Hagler died in 1826 their son Jacob and wife were also deceased.

      Did I not send you an email copy of the division?

      John II owned at the time of his death 420 acres of land of which 320 were unmentioned in deeds because of the court house fire.
      Jacob`s share was redivided and allowed to all of John II`s children according to their different sex.
      Leonard sold his share and that left Charles with 120 acres from his father`s will + 15 1/2 acres from the redivision of Jacob`s land.plus additional land that Charles acquired. By and by Charles got vastly in debt to Thomas J. Shinn, Sr. (who lived on the other side of the river) resulting in the loss of his land in 1846. In 1853 Nelson and Paul Hagler who were sons of Charles went to the California Gold Rush where they did well operating a saw mill. Nelson returned home by stage in 1856 with funds that Paul gave him to buy back the property of their father.

      If you want I can send you copies of the division of John II`s land and the division of Jacob`s share according to the court records.

      But no more for now.

      Reply
      1. geothos Post author

        Thanks for the background info on why and how Charles received his land. I do have the written copy of the division you gave me along with a copy of the division plat I think came from the courthouse in Concord.

      2. John Blair Hagler

        Accoring to Rev. Thurmond C. Plexico`s publication entitled: JOURNEY IN FAITH 1797 – 1994, he in error stated Rev. A.N. Marcard served St. John`s from 1707 to 1800.
        “According to Pastor Marcard`s record, he baptized Henry Hegler (s.i.c.) son of Phillip and his wife Magdalene born August 24, 1797, six days after Christmas Day 1797. Additional baptisms were also recorded.” He went on to say that Rev. Marcard mentioned the church at Rake River (Rake River in German translates in English to Rocky River).and one can conclude that the people meeting regularily, months (maybe years) before that. This type of gathering and worship followed the pattern of New Testament congregations – the church in your home.”

        “The Hon. John Sharpe Hartsell, long-time friend of St. Martins located a map at the Cabarrus County Courthouse, on which we were able to identify Haigler`s Crossing. This property is where the bridge spans Rocky River on the Mount Pleasant Highway, just beyond the Highway 200 intersection. This map is on display in the archives of Saint Martin.”

        “Courthouse documents, Register of Deeds Book 44, page 509 give no indication of the congregation owning property until November 16, 1819 when Governor Branch granted 120 acres of land to John H. Bost and Daniel Boger (Trustees of Saint Martin Lutheran Church). The people undoubtably continued to meet in area houses.”

        There is no date as to when the first buildidng was built at what is now St. Martin`s Lutheran Church.

        “Later, probabably in the 1830`s, no later than 1840, a second church was built.” When Rev. Plexico wrote the preceding sentence he didn`t mean a new church. What he meant to say was a second building was built on the original property of what is now St. Martin`s.

  2. geothos Post author

    Anna,

    Thank you so very much for the reference information. I’ve a little correcting and editing to do this weekend on the post after which, let me know if there is anything glaring wrong or missing. BTW…I didn’t know of the connection to the family of Silas B. Shinn whose son wrote a memoir I hold dear. Thanks you!

    Reply
    1. AHMelvin

      George, There is no connection to Shin. I noted it simply because he was a neighbor living across the river and it offers a date of death. In the Diary, there are multiple mentions of Henkel meeting at Rocky River following the last entry for Widow Hagler. My personal thoughts are that she was unable physically to host the services and that they met “at the river” instead of at her house. I think she dies about 1824 or 1825 but the final estate was not settled until 1826. I don’t think there is any need to mention that level of detail on the blog.

      “Chemo Brain” makes it tricky to put my thoughts in a logical order. Some days I’m okay – others days – not so much. I write in Word so there is plenty of time to edit and re-write, then it is a simple copy and paste!

      Thanks for including me on your blog. I emailed a word document containing the info added to your blog to John Blair. He can file it with his early Hagler stuff.

      Take care and stay in touch. Anna

      Reply
      1. geothos Post author

        Anna,

        But there is a tie …. Have you read my post “Seeking Religion?” Henkel’s diary tells of the burial of Silas Benjamin Shinn and of meetings at his widow’s. Silas, at that time, lived just to the east of Hagler land along the county line of Montgomery, now Stanly. His son Silas Monroe made it to the west where he wrote a memoir. He tells tells story of his first religious experience, his mother and of the family’s move to Arkansas. Silas Monroe’s brother is Thomas J. Sr. who later owned land opposite the river from the Hagler land…

  3. John Blair Hagler

    At the paragraph that begins So, here`s the big picture….

    Nelson wasn`t the one who restored his father`s land, the land that Charles Hagler had lost in 1846 because of indebtedness. Nelson returned home in 1856 by stage from the California Gold Rush and obviously brought with him the funds that his brother, Paul Hartwell Hagler had given him in order that Charles` land could be restored. The deed was dated 1856 and in part states: “Paul H. Hagler of California for natural love and affection and the sum of $1.00.” And that was the same year that Paul got married in California.

    Reply
  4. Frank W. Anderson

    I am so happy to have found this… I recently came to know of my connection to the Haglers of Cabarrus County NC. I am descended from Leonard, who ended up in Alabama, and am a Lutheran pastor – ironically because my Lutheran Mother from Blooming Prairie MN married my Pentecostal Father from Florala AL who she met in Long Beach CA after WWII!
    I was just on that bridge in the photograph a few weeks ago and tramped through the St. Martin’s Cemetery. I had the pleasure of meeting a distant cousin at Hagler’s Auction Company.
    Are there any Hagler events at St. Martin’s anymore, or any reunions?
    Rev’d Frank W. Anderson
    Columbia, SC

    Reply
  5. geothos Post author

    Frank, so glad the information is appreciated! I’m not a direct Hagler descendant though have ties through my maternal LOVE family. Hopefully one of the others who’ve commented will see and address your question. I’ll rattled the bushes if not soon.

    Reply
  6. Melissa Henderson Leahy

    There ends up being a connection between the Haglers and the Shinns. Nelson Hagler’s son John Thomas marries Annie Shinn.

    Reply

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