Imagine it’s 1761 and in setting the stage for this post we start with George Poplin receiving a grant for 550 acres (Grant 113, Chatham) in a section of old Orange County that later became Chatham. The land is situated on Bear Creek near its mouth along Rocky River. Yes, there’s a Rocky River in Chatham County upon which some of our forebearers once lived.
Benjamin Mauldin somehow acquired part of George Poplin’s 550 acres as early 1775. Benjamin sold 75 acres (A-446 Chatham) of the land to Thomas Taylor. Later that year, in the summer of 1775, George Poplin penned his last will and testament naming children William, John, Jane, Nansey, George, Richard, Abe, Mimy, and Henry.
A new generation was coming in to its own at the same time the American Revolution spread across the southeast. During the early 1780’s the simple life previously known was shattered by political discourse. Locally, skirmishes between the Tory firebrand David Fanning and area patriot militiamen were constantly in the hearts and minds of common folk.
Among the patriot leadership was Col. Philip Alston who owned and built what is known as the House in the Horse Shoe (located in present day Moore County). Alston was a hard man, shrewd and powerful. It was during 1781 when Col. Philip Alston paid a visit to the home of the above Thomas Taylor. He shot and killed the said Taylor supposedly after hearing words spoken that the colonel did not like. History records Thomas Taylor to be a Tory though some believe his death occurred because he simply refused to serve Philip Alston.
Thomas Taylor, the son of Robert and Mary Hudson Taylor, was but one child in their large family. The elder Robert Taylor wrote his will in 1758 Edgecombe County naming children Robert Jr, Edward, Joseph, Richard, Henry, William, Henry, Billington, Nimrod, Hudson, Judith, and Rachel. And, while residing in Chatham County, several of Thomas Taylor’s siblings lived very close to him. Just like Thomas, his brother William also acquired a 75 acre portion of George Poplin’s land (A-380, Chatham). Brother Richard received grants for land on nearby George’s Creek while Billington Taylor was deeded land on Cedar Creek near what’s called the Devil’s Tramping Ground.
Unlike the sad story of his brother Thomas, the Revolutionary War services of Hudson Taylor are well recorded. Born 1762 in Halifax County NC, his pension application shows that Hudson served three tours of duty. Much of the time his unit cruised the eastern piedmont employing hit and run tactics aimed at demoralizing the advances of David Fanning. They engaged the Tories at various locations including Lindley Mill and Brush Creek. Near the present day town of Coleridge, the latter Brush Creek skirmish took place on a branch of Deep River known as Brush Creek. From Hudson Taylor’s pension application:
“…was in the Battle at Brush Creek against the Tories & was defeated by the Tories Overpowered by the Numbers of Men the Killed & wounded not recollected returned to Chatham Court House.”
No more than 18 miles to the southwest of Brush Creek, another Patriot is said to have lived and died. While on leave from a tour of duty in 1781, Thomas Owen Carpenter was cuddling his infant baby when someone called upon him at his home place. Opening the door with baby in arms, it is said that Thomas Carpenter and his infant child were immediately shot down by Cornwallis’ troops. A small modern carved stone marks the resting place of the father and babe at nearby Shamburger family cemetery.
The Revolutionary War ended with many of its veterans picking up in search of a better promise. Our new country continued to offer incentives driving the American spirit south and westward. The old guard settlers knew each other well and must have moved forward, reveling in the deep comradery established during the war. Though there’s no record of Hudson Taylor acquiring land earlier in Chatham, deed books show he sold 75 acres (C-7 Chatham) in 1783. Located near the mouth of Bear Creek in Chatham County, this piece of land had once belonged to William Taylor by way of George Poplin’s 550 acre grant.
It was during this time that Hudson Taylor and others headed west across the Great Pee Dee. They found their way to the lands on Long Creek in present day Stanly County. Among those who settled in the area included Jonathan Carpenter from Moore County, the oldest son of the above Thomas Owen Carpenter.
I’m personally excited by the challenges of expanding a traditionally held story by close inspection of the common land records we usually gloss over. In this case, the need to physically locate a family acquisition and a happen chance find have coalesced with the story I’ve but begun to tell. Please hold your seats as the stage for act II is set.
Jonathan Carpenter was issued a patent of 200 acres (Grant 527, Montgomery) in 1783. Situated on Long Creek, the survey takes the shape of a large rectangle and the legal description further states the land is located “on the east side of Long Creek, east of Harbard Suggs, including a pond at the head of Scaly Bark Branch.” A title history for the land shows that it later fell in the hands of Solomon Burris. And, needing to identify the location in preparation for a presentation at this past year’s Solomon and Judith Burris Family Reunion, I pretty much guessed, and without proof, plotted the tract based on the following Google Maps image:
Today’s map is perfect; you can’t get much better! And yet, I cannot be sure this is it. And below, the following conveyances provide an early land history for Jonathan’s 200 acres:
Deed 13-36 Stanly, 1799. Jonathan Carpenter to William Taylor of Mecklenburg Witness: Josiah Carpenter, James Howell
Deed 13-362 Stanly. William Taylor of Mecklenburg to Nimrod Taylor of Montgomery. Wit: Jesse Hathcock, Elizabeth Hathcock
Deed 13-364 Stanly, 15 Mar 1812. Nimrod Taylor to Solomon Burris. Wit: Ezekiel Morton, Taylor Burris.
Deed 13-365 Stanly. 15 Feb 1819. Solomon Burris to Jesse Hathcock. Wit: Ezekiel Morton, Judith Burris
It’s amazing! There’s Jonathan Carpenter along with William Taylor whose land Hudson Taylor sold in Chatham County. And, there’s Hudson’s brother Nimrod who later moves to Louisiana. My family’s Revolutionary solider Solomon Burris bought into the land and his wife Judith served as a witness. And, of all who could have witnessed, there’s Taylor Burris amongst all these Taylor folks from earlier in Chatham County. Hudson Taylor had a sister named Judith though from timing and record we know Solomon’s wife could not be her. Somehow the Judith Burris above ties in to the Taylor family and her son Taylor Burris is there too. They are amongst family. And lastly, note the presence of Jesse Hathcock. He and the Burris family remain close throughout life.
Knowing I was close but still unable to pinpoint the 200 acre tract’s exact location, I began platting pieces of land for owners in and around the area …expanding outward from the pond at the end of Scaly Bark Branch. Looking southward, a few weeks ago the search yielded the following 250 acre tract (Grant 2653, Montgomery) issued to Daniel Moose in 1830.
According to the legal description, the sprawling tract above adjoins lands of Daniel Lowder, David Kendall, Hearne, Nimrod Taylor, Lucy Thomason, and Fogleman. Connecting other pieces of land to this tract, I learned that Hudson Taylor owned several large tracts to the east. Nehemiah Hearne owned the lands to the northeast reaching into Albemarle where he is buried in a family cemetery.
Upon a petition of the heirs at law of Daniel Moose, in 1860 the above tract was sold to Sarah A. Moose (Deed 6-23, Stanly). However, increasing in size, the tract was then 507 ¾ acres instead of the 250 originally granted to Daniel Moose. Drawing the deeded land, and adding to it several other tracts, I present to you the following:
In the above, the light red shaded tract represents Daniel Moose’s original 250 acre grant which crossed a fork in Long Creek. The dark red shaded area is additional land revealed in the 1860 deed to Sarah A. Moose. In the deed to Sarah Moose the dark red area above is described as joining George Cagle’s land to the north and Solomon Hathcock’s land to the west. Related, in 1835, George H. Cress and wife Elizabeth sold the yellow shaded two tracts (2-196, Stanly) to Solomon Hathcock before removing to Montgomery County, Illinois. And of importance in locating all of this, the green tracts (4-343. Stanly) were deeded in 1853 from James Hathcock to Solomon Hathcock. The description of this land mentions Scaly Bark Branch. So… we now have a general location on where to begin our search for this lost land. It lies somewhere between Long Creek and Scaly Bark Branch. And in beginning that process, take note of the pinkish lines on the west side of the unshaded tract (belongs to Lucy Thomason) above. That line will be key in locating this land.
A little over a week ago Pam Holbrook, myself, Brenda Combs and her daughter Maria paid visit to 91 year old Roscoe “Skeeter” Huneycutt. His wife was cooking a pot of greens and the house was warmed by a life well lived. We learned of moonshining, Red Cross, the reburial of Solomon Burris, and of many other stories the spry 91 year old’s mind could recall. It was there that Pam asked, “have you seen the deed?”
With that in mind, let’s raise the curtains for act III.
Can you imagine my reaction?!!! Pam pulled out an old deed dated 21 June 1824. Registered Dec 1824 in Montgomery County, for all practical purposes the transaction had been lost to the memories of record. But now it’s found! Pam’s friend Ned Huneycutt came across the deed whilst cleaning out an old house. As seen below, William Poplin of then Bedford County Tennessee sold a piece of land to Daniel Moose. This is the same William Poplin, son of George Poplin of Chatham County upon whose land the Taylor family once called home. William Poplin too served in the Revolutionary War. His pension request states that William moved to Tennessee and Georgia before coming back home to old Montgomery County. There, he applied for a Revolutionary War pension mentioning Hudson Taylor as being a neighbor back in Chatham County. So here they were. All in this little deed of 20 acres, William’s journey west is validated and the only record of his holdings in now Stanly County is confirmed. And, out of nowhere, we have a new clue as to locating Solomon Burris’ land.
Mentioning the 20 acres as “being part of the Solomon Burris tract,” there was very little else I could use to locate such a small piece of land. Picking up pencil and a scrap of paper, the rough sketch to the right drove my research to a quick completion. Seeing the drawn image, it hit me like a boulder that what I was seeing was the upper right corner of the land Solomon Burris purchased of Jonathan Carpenter. Now, all we need to confirm is its physical location.
Reaching out to the Stanly County GIS page, I pulled up the following image of the area surrounding the pond which is located at the end of Scaly Bark Branch. The red spot marks the small pond. And, the green shaded triangle closer to the top records William Poplin’s deed. And as is written in the deed, we now know it’s part of Solomon Burris’ old rectangular tract that’s clearly evident in the image below.
Beyond the land discoveries and the stories land can tell of our past, there remains lore and the memories passed down by word of mouth. In this presentation I have not shown tracts of land to the south of the area of my study. But even so, you need to know there’s an old burial ground that lies just out of view. Called “Old Freedom,” I’ve wondered where it got its name and what momentous story is at root cause. Being an out-of-towner, I’m not voiced on the local nuances of our Stanly County past. But personally, I’ve got to think that the Old Freedom Cemetery has a history interwoven with that of our combined families who once served out of Chatham/Moore Counties. Oh, I’m sure there is more to it, but this was a community from early days that moved apart during war only to come back together again afterwards. And even then, we see the valiant fight instilled a spirit that shall never be distinguished. Like now, the veterans’ story is without end.
For the Fallen
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.