BROWN HILL AFRICAN AMERICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL: A CHURCH TRANSFORMED (Pt. 2)

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle – 21 Sep 1860

The “Republican Campaign Club” of South Brooklyn held a “palaver” at the Wigwam in Court Street last night. …they started off to fetch the Hon. O. S. Perry, M. C., from Connecticut, the great gun of the demonstration. “A drum, a drum; Macbeth doth come.” In the course of an hour or so, the piercing notes of a fife and the rat-tat-oo of a drum proclaimed the advent of the veritable Mr. Perry, escorted by the Knights of the Lantern…”

Failures of the Republican Party in the prior presidential election meant that the slave holding state of Kansas remained out of the Union. Speaking from his abolitionist stance, O. S. Perry beseeched listeners to embrace the impending burden of which was that “in a few days, the Republicans will “send Buchanan home” and conduct “Honest Old Abe” to his new home.” Perry declared the “battle is now to be fought over again on the issue of extension or non-extension of slavery over our free territory. The Principle now established is to govern not only our present territory, but our future acquisitions and settlements. The great issue in this contest is human freedom or human bondage. If moral right is really at the basis of slavery, we might as well give up the contest. No question arises in the States where the system already exists – where we have no political power – but it does arise in the new territory.”

Abraham Lincoln was indeed elected and the American Civil War came and passed. The playing field changed.

Moving the story to Stanly County, North Carolina, in June of 1870, B. N. Smith and wife G E M Smith of Mecklenburg sold 216 acres (yellow) (Deed 2-238 Stanly) to O. S. Perry who at the time lived in the state of Missouri. The purchase adjoined the Cabarrus County line as well as the lands of J. S. Turner, Barbee, Susan Hartwick and “Brown’s.” I’ve not been able to find out who “Brown” is though he simply must be the namesake of Brown Hill Church.
Stanfield, NC, 1:24,000 quad, 1971, USGS
A year later, Mr. O. S. Perry, identified as a bachelor from Chicago, Illinois, sold the land to Perlee H. Webster of Tompkins County in the State of New York. Also conveyed was an adjoining tract of 67 acres (pink):

Beginning at a PO B. N Smith’s corner and along his line south 1 west 18.25 chains to a red oak Smith’s corner on a line of land the heirs of Aaron Jenkins, thence with his line north 89 east 43 chains to a black oak Susan Hartwick’s corner, then with her line north 51 west 32 chains to a dead red oak Susan Hartwick’s corner, then south 66 west 20 chains to the beginning.

Of real importance, this second tract also “excepts 8 acres sold to Michael Garmon in 1859-1860 as will appear reference to his bond for the same which said 8 acres is hereby excepted.”

From the first tract conveyed above we learn that a person by name of Brown once owned the second deeded tract which joined and is located to the south. And from that second, 66 acre tract, we know that Michael Garmon purchased 8 acres within it sometime around 1859-60. As will be shown, later conveyances indicate the 8 acres to be the “Brown Hill Church Property.”

But for now, and before moving beyond this transaction, there’s an interesting twist to the story of Perlee H. Webster that needs to be told. First of all, the following advertisement shows that Perlee H. Webster made his income from speculating in cheap post-war southern lands with the idea of selling it in exchange for land in Chicago.
perlee.jpg
Perlee H. Webster was also an ardent politician. A newspaper article in 1877 Chicago tells of a lawsuit by Perlee H. Webster against John E. Burton. The suit was based on grounds that a wager between the two men was made illegally and therefore should not be seen as legally binding. From the article, “Perlee, aside from being a good Democrat, was the lucky owner of a certain broad acres in the sunny South, while on the other hand the defendant, John E. Burton, held the title to sundry lots located in Illinois. The two agreed to execute deeds to one another of their respective lands, and placed them in escrow with one Henry Whipple, who was also made a defendant. Whipple was to hold them until after the election, and if Tilden was elected, then Webster was to take all the land. If on the other hand Hayes was elected, then Burton would take the pool. The election, and subsequent events have become historical.”

perlee h. webster

So, as you cross over Rocky River into Stanly County, and you gaze upon that first 200 acres, think of ole’ Mr. Perry and Mr. Webster and of their roles in the county history. I wish to link this to Michael Garmon and also to the freedoms realized by the African American’s who worship at Brown Hill AME. There are, however, gaps in records preventing me from completing such a story. I can only guess.

Before leaving you I’d like to share a bit more about the land surrounding Brown Hill and of those who once called it home.
Stanfield, NC, 1:24,000 quad, 1971, USGS
Perlee H. Webster’s 216 acre tract was eventually sold to W. J. Black. From there, the land including the 66 acre southern end fell into the hands of the Furr family. Israel J. Furr sold the northern portion to his brother Wilson M. Furr. Made up of the 66 acre tract and part of the 216 acre tract to the north, the southern end (checkerboard) was sold by Israel J. Furr to his son George P. Furr. It’s in that conveyance (Deed 13-96, Stanly), where we first learn of the 8 acre Brown Hill Property that was once in the hands of Michael Garmon before being owned by a Mr. Brown.

Also, in the above image note the broad L shaped line (red) along the southwest corner of the 66 acre tract. That corner matches up with a similar L shaped line locating John S. Turner’s land as seen below.

jno s turner.jpg

And finally, church history indicates a connection with the lands of Henry W. Love, a free person of color. It appears Henry may not have owned the land where Brown Hill AME stands today. I know he owned a tract of 46 acres to the south along Nance Road.  Henry owned other tracts and in the future I hope to define his and other holdings in the area.

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