My name is George Thomas and like most searchers of family history, I was drawn to it by the death of a loved one. At the start of 1996, I remember passing a cemetery on the way to my father’s funeral wondering if kin were buried there. Though my father came from a large family, I knew little of their history beyond the fact that I was named for my great-grandfather George Thomas.
Both of my parents were born and raised on the north side of the Rocky River in southwest Stanly County. Going upstream,the river divides Stanly from Anson and Union Counties to the south before turning north where it divides Stanly from Cabarrus County. Family stories revolved around life along the river, the hardships of farming, and gold. Gold? Yes, in the late 1790’s the first major gold strike in the United States took place in adjoining Cabarrus County with mines later spreading into Stanly.
As for my mother, her LOVE family was thick in Stanly County with roots going back to Virginia. My mom cherishes visiting and to this day, we share drives through the country and her memories of family, church, and community. There was not much need for researching her family as that history had already been researched and was complete, so we thought.
I was born and raised in Charlotte a few blocks from the home place of Rev. Billy Graham. There are many like me whose parents moved to the city in search of better jobs as an escape from the hardships of farming. I am by definition a city boy though my heritage pulls strong to the stories of life on the farm. We frequently beat the path down to the country and like most kids growing up in families with roots from western Stanly County, I always wondered what happened to the gold and why it had not made life a little easier for many of those living on the slopes along the river.
Back in the spring of 1996, an important chapter in my life opened with a visit to the North Carolina State Archives. Not knowing what to do or how to even start, I was oblivious to the chuckles from the information desk when I extended a greeting “hello, I’m George Thomas and I’m here to find everything I can about my family.”
Single, living in Raleigh, and, as an educator free from work every summer, I became a fixture in the search room at archives. Older folks were quick to take me under their wing and I had the chance to rub elbows with top shelf historians whose wisdom was there for the picking. It was as if I were living a story unfolding as new resources and research perspective wove their way into my own journey. Looking back, I really was blessed, the big enchilada sat right there before me. Instead of having to travel hundreds of miles to the place of my family’s origin, records covering my family for hundreds of years were right there.
I also had the chance to travel. Back along the Rocky River, I met other families searching for their beginning who, like me, held an equal excitement to tell their own stories. The sharing of discoveries led to more questions and pretty soon my circle of research pushed beyond North Carolina. Going west, did we cross the Appalachians or go around them? Where did the gold go when it left North Carolina? How did our story push beyond North Carolina and are there more of us out there? Hello, out there? . . . are you there??? Trips in search of such questions were made to Indiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and Washington D. C.
What began as a never ending story slowed to a near halt as my search outgrew history itself. Available records go back only so far to a point where discoveries grow farther apart and are increasingly harder to connect. Like in a desert on a horse with no name, long periods of drought are followed by breakthroughs that come more slowly. My brick wall now stands before me waiting quietly for some unsuspecting discovery born of DNA or in a record that as of now has no meaning.
It’s at this point that the work of most family historians end. A compilation may be placed in a book, but more likely, all the good stuff ends in decaying legal pads and papers piled in some box. Early on, I hung my hat to the internet, believing that online histories were the way to keep the conversation alive and the story moving forward. But even the best online family history faces its own extinction at the base of the mighty brick wall.
It’s a shame it has to end this way. There were so many ah-ha moments, so much fun and sharing, and then there was even the competition to become the first to know something new. As with life itself, the real story is in the journey, not the outcome.
In this blog, it is my intent to revisit informative little factoids that ended up as a smirk of memory or on my website as single lines of type. I want to share my joy in discovery in hopes the information will inspire others to shake their tree. Some posts will be specific to source types and how they have been ignored or misunderstood. Other posts will be on family and the many stories yet untold. I will even reach beyond the piedmont of North Carolina while remaining true to the memory of those who made their homes along the Rocky River.
My name is Jim Wright. I am a retired Judge from California. Darling Love and Cerena Little were my 2nd Great Grandparents. (Calvin McDonald (Or McDaniel) Love, Mamie Darr Love, Leatha Winfrey, James Wright).
I have just read your very well researched work on James Love, and thank you for it. I have been among the thoroughly confused as to the true ancestry of Darling Love. Even though it is romantic to claim ancestry through the discoverer of the gold nugget, it has been genealogically uncomfortable.
If you have uncovered any further information on this subject, I would be pleased to receive it, and, of course, to share with you any information I have on my knowledge of the descendents of Darling Love.
Very nice to read your comment cousin Jim. It always baffled me how early research showed old James Love with sons named Thomas, Jonah Charles and then all of a sudden along comes Darling, Pleasant very late in life. Didn’t make sense. Of likely interest to you, D. Love had passage on a ship arriving in San Francisco in the mid 1850’s. I wondered if this was Darling and if he travelled west for a short jaunt to weigh in on gold mining or to just visit family there. Would very much love any old pictures or for you to share stories from your line of the family.
Rand Thomas here. I think we have the same line. My gggg grandfather was Michael Thomas died 1792. Places of my ancestors Franklin County, NC Bertie County, NC, Warren and Hancock Counties in Georgia, Coosa County, Tallapoosa County, Elmore County and Montgomery Countties in Alabama I was born in Montgomery County, Alabama Email is Thomasrandylee@hotmail
My name is Robert A. Love, Jr. and I am a direct descendent of James Love Sr. I’ve spent years reading and studying the research you have done on the Love’s in Stanly Co. As you well know the Love’s have done a great job naming their boy’s James and John so trying to keep them all straight is a nightmare. I believe you actually met with my grandmother when you were doing your research in Stanfield. Her name is Jocelyn Love and she lived across the street from Love’s Chapel UMC. She passed in 2006 and she left me all of the history she had on the Love’s, Morgan’s, Easily’s, Baucom’s and Nance’s. While going through the information I found two very old land deeds that describes land along Richardson Creek in Anson Co. I have electronic copies of these deeds and would be happy to share them with you if you are interested. One last bit of information on the Love’s. I have done DNA testing through Family Tree DNA and I am Haplogroup I-M233. I was hoping to identify James Love’s ancestors but I haven’t had any success. Thanks again for all of the work you have done and I would love to exchange information with you.
Hey cousin Robert,
Thanks for the kudos and do remember very well your grandmother and visiting her to photocopy a print of Jonah Askew Love. And am glad to know her thoughts and history will have a good home with you. Do you live in Stanfield or Charlotte? I’d be more than happy to share thoughts and info collected over the years. I’m getting ready to retire from NC State and hope to updated and clarify some of what I’ve written in the past. It’s just hard to keep it all together at the moment. About DNA, I just looked at the familytreedna page and not seeing the results. But, I know Wayne Love in Union County has DNA that matches a descendant of James Love’s brother John who moved to Indiana and then to Missouri. Also, a descendant of Charles Love of Cleveland County NC to GA and then TX was tested and matches. And there’s others including a descendant of John in Watuaga County NC and Fred Love who descends from a James Love who died in Campbell County GA and who had a son Ingram.
I’d love to see the deed in Union/Anson on Richardson Creek. I’ve platted all the grants from west of Pleasant Hill Church road to 742 and from south of Olive Branch to the river. There’s bits and pieces of the land that was received by Tories and resissued after the Revolutionary War. Any deeds would be great in helping to close a few gaps.
Sincere thanks and do appreciate the inquiry,
I actually live next door to her house.:) I bought her land and house when she passed and built a house on the property. Can’t get much closer than that. People doing research ask me all the time if I could walk over to the cemetery and verify dates, names, etc. for them.
I’m not sure why you can’t see my results but my kit # is 285387. I tested Y-DNA 67, Family Finder and I’m waiting on the confirmed SNP results. Wayne tested Y-DNA 12 and he is confirmed I-M233 and with the same surname it’s pretty safe to say we are related at the 6th generation level for me and 5 for him. Fred Love and I matched 66/67 markers. Fred’s most distant ancestor is Johanni Luiff (Love) b. 1440 and d. 1520 from Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland. I believe our Love’s originated in Scotland and migrated to Ireland before coming to the New World but we may never know for sure. Anyway… I have the electronic files on a flash drive that’s not with me but as soon as I return home I’ll email them to you. Thanks for your quick reply and I look forward to corresponding with you. Rob
Here is he LOVE DNA Group put together by Fred Love who descends from James in Campbell GA. This James may be a son of Thomas love or maybe an unknown son who died early. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~lovednaproject/researcher.html
George, I used this email address firstname.lastname@example.org to send you an invitation to Dropbox. If you want me to use something else please let me know. Rob
Rob, that’s correct, my email is email@example.com Also on the deeds, they are just to the west of the scope of my present mapping project. I believe the land is on the north side of the creek about midway between between Gourdvine and Negrohead (now Salem Creek). There’s a supreme court case from the 1870’s where Jacob Mullis is in suit with another person about the origin of land grants in the area. Some of the land was deeded as breakups of the old Dobb’s tract, but those folks left the area. They should have deeded the land before leaving, or if the left due to back taxes, the sheriff would have sold the lands. That, or it could have reverted back to the state for disbursement by way of being reissued by grant. Anyhow, the area along Salem Creek was a mess but the case includes a fabulous old plat laying out who owned what in the area.
Also, it’s cool to see Bryant Richardson’s name as he moved to Cherokee County GA and his son on to Pecan Gap Texas. I’ve worked with an old lady from there who would love to have a copy of the land with his name attached. Bryant owned a small piece of land on Pleasant Hill Church road north of the Creek. He was involved with the Sharp family as well as Ezekiel Thomas. He moved to Alabama with Ezekiel’s son Jonathan. And also, Daniel Smith’s land was, I think, is buried on a hill in a field just to the north and west of Richardson Creek where 218 crosses. Back in teh day (1800) there was “Daniel’s Spring.” I’ve always wondered if there was a meeting house there.
I am one of those other Thomas’ descendants. Thank you for you wonderful information on Stephen’s (1705-1774) sons, William and Col. Tristrum. I am a descendant of William and TN Stephen and his son, John Covington Thomas. Wondering if you agree with others that Stephen (1705-1774)’s father was Tristrum Thomas II of 1666- 11 Feb 1746? I know you are finding that this Tennessee Thomas’ are not your line, but perhaps you had information about Tristrum 1666? All the best in your hunt. You write concisely, yet with such detail.
Thanks for the response and is good to know it’s being seen. I never really delved deeply into things beyond Stephen as others at the time seemed to have it all under control. Living in Raleigh NC, I’ve spent most of my time in records most have been without access until recently. I do remember where son Robert went back to MD to handle a portion of the estate. So yes, up through MD I’d bet is mostly true. But beyond that, in England, it’s a guess.
My name is Joanna (Thomas) Haslam. I to have been researching the Thomas line since the 90s. I am in Ohio where my Thomas’ came in the 1930s from Hamilton County, Indiana. In the late 1870 my 2nd great grandfather William Anderson Thomas made his way from Chatham County, NC to Indiana. William was the son of John Henry Thomas and Elizabeth Stuart. John Henry was the grandson of John Thomas and Mary Oats. I would love to talk with you more.
Hello Joanna and so glad to see your response. I’d be more than happy to discuss or share what info I have on the Thomas family in Lee/Chatham NC. I know little of the details within the family but am working more to build the connection back to Bertie and then down to my own Thomas who came to Anson County NC ca. 1779. WE all connect by DNA. I’ve sent you an invite to join our FB group “OUR THOMAS FAMILY: to early Virginia.” Look forward to learning about your line!
I’ve read through this entire article, interesting stuff! I saw one of my ancestors briefly mentioned.. my ancestor was Thomas Dove (1735-1801) and his wife was Dorothy Dove, who I believe was a relative of George Garmon.. if anyone has any information on these people, it would be HIGHLY appreciated. They have been the “brick wall” in our family research for decades. If you can offer any information, my email address is- firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks and have a blessed week!
Hello George — I chanced upon this site when doing my periodic knocking of my head against my brick wall, in the person of William Sharp of Anson County. You and I corresponded quite some years ago about the migration of the Thomas and Sharp families from Anson Co., NC to Cherokee Co., AL. I feel very fortunate to have benefited from your careful research, and am glad to see this newer endeavor. In particular, the mapping of land grants is very helpful. I have wondered at times if James Sharp and Emery/Emory Sharp are the same person. Reportedly, his son Joel Sharp’s death certificate lists his parents as Jas Emery and Anny Sharp.
Cindy, thanks and will need to keep that in mind about Emory/James. Had not realized there was a possibility though continuity of naming in deeds is strong. I was surprised to see that Willey /Willie Griffin had a land grant that never was issued being the same land as Emory’s. I think William Hammond opened a store in the area and defaulting on accounts with him may have led to the wide removal to Alabama.
Hi George, I came across your blog while researching our old log house near the Lick Creek in Chatham County, NC.. I also found the following source, which may interest you (athough you’ve probably seen it already). It mentions an account of the wagon journey from Chatham County, NC to Lick Creek Ind. The address is:
I’ve been very much enjoying your work. I’m researching Jenkins families, as y-DNA has linked me those in Union/Anson County. I’ve done a lot of research on Winborn Jenkins and his sons along Richardson Creek, but cannot pinpoint which branch was Rutherford/Weatherford Branch (along with other nearby branches you’ve written about). Can you help me out and tell me which branches were Rutherford/Weatherford, Pinyons and Cedar branches?
Thanks so much,
Ron, I’m out of town at the moment and will get back with you next week. Will be giving a talk tomorrow at the Monroe Library in Union County and will see if they have that mapped. Off hand, I’m thinking it is a branch of Rocky rather than Richardson and is near Gold Mine Branch northwest of New Salem. More later.
George, here’s a passage from your entry “Was It the Gold”:
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.”
I’m guessing Rutherford and Pinion branches are two of the unnamed branches that feed into Richardson Creek from the north, directly NE/E of Gold Branch near Salem Branch.
Thanks for your help!
Yes, I THINK that’s the area, but still yet proven to be such. For me, this deed by Benjamin Thomas was in a location further west that his other holdings. It’s in the area of a John Thomas from Chatham who lived on what was called School House Branch. Another stream not yet located. I’ve seen these in a drawing somewhere and will keep my eyes open in the future …will get back with you if find anything. BTW, did your line go to Alabama?
My great-gf, gf and father all were in Gadsden, AL. My earliest known Jenkins is my 2nd-gr-gf, George C. Jenkins b. 1830 (appeared on four censuses, two say born in SC, two say born in NC). I have strong y-DNA matches (genetic distance=0) to desc. of Francis Jenkins, b. 1795, who was on the border in Pageland, SC, then moved 7 miles north to Union Co. with sons and their families about 1848 to the area along Carolina Branch near Lansford Road. I have another strong y-DNA match to an Allen Jenkins who in 1830 was near the mouth of Carolina Branch. First known record of my George Jenkins was on 1850 Census in Chambers Co., AL, where he was living with and working for Matthew Sikes, son of Cornelius Sikes, of Richardson Creek area. Matthew had moved to AL about 1839. The Sikes families were close to the Jenkins (Winborn and sons) at Richardson Creek. Along with many of my y-DNA matches, we have a Facebook group (“Jenkins of Chesterfield Co., SC”) that is researching these Jenkins families and others. Thanks for your help! -Ron
Hi, a shout out to Joanna. You have provided valuable insight on Andrew Thomas on your Thomas/Murray ancestry.com tree to whom I, too, am related to Andrew through our common forefather, John Martin Thomas (1771-1849). That would make you and me cousins and your Dad a key DNA link to help us learn more about how we Thomases all split off through the likes of John Henry, Andrew, Daniel and if we ALL truly have the three Joseph’s in common which would, in turn, allow us to claim Colonial Virginian roots as co-founders of our great nation. Would your father (male Thomas) submit a Y-DNA cheek swab sample if you asked him? If yes, please let Chris Meek or George Thomas know. In fact, you guys could help George, you and I understand if we are connected on this side of the Atlantic, or the other.
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I just discovered your blog and just wanted to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed scanning through it. I have a similar experience with family history and have been working on a similar project. I’m a descendant of Robert Harris Sr. (1702-1788), who settled in what is now Harrisburg, Cabarrus County. A little over a year ago I became interested in the town’s history and that of the Harrises and related families. (We’re Scots-Irish, so we tended to breed among our own.) The result of this preliminary research is a thing that I’m calling The Harris Depot Project. It combines regional history with family history and genealogy.
You can find us on Facebook in the group Harris Depot. It’s a closed group, but I approve all join requests. We’re in the process of putting our materials online in a blog format, and have just published our first genealogy text (Descendants of Robert Harris Sr.) It’s available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and a few other retailers, or from my directly for a discounted price.
I invite you and your readers to join us as we explore the history and people who lived just a bit to the south of your part of Rocky River. And to reach out if you would like to know more.
I’m available via email at GrierHPharmD@gmail.com and on Facebook.
I just wanted to thank you for sharing all this work. It was very helpful.
My GGG grandfather was;
BIRTH 15 APR 1818 • Buncombe County, North Carolina, USA
DEATH 2 SEP 1904 • Cleveland,White,Georgia,USA
His wife was Rachel Adams. His parents are unknown. Several DNA matches are connecting him to A John Thomas born abt 1772 buncombe county NC. He died in 1828 Habersham county GA. His wife was Rachel. Most believe her maiden name was Crumley. My Joseph Thomas is also connectiong to a Varden Daniel Thomas Born 1811 NC. He died in 1864 Nashville TN. in 1860, he was living in Murray County GA. just curious if you have come across any of these Thomas families. BTW, I like the articles you have written
My name is Angie and I’m researching Thomas families in Holly Springs, Wake County, NC. Do you happen to know if the Thomas’ may have owned an enslaved person named David Thomas or do you know of a free David Thomas? I came across an old article that mentions David and “Dicie” as being parents of 19 children, including twins, Mack & Will Betts (who were enslaved). I am wondering if Dicie was enslaved and David was free. I can find David Thomas on Census records with his sons (Will & Mack) after the war, but can’t find him before then. I would love any help you could provide. You are an incredible genealogist and I loved reading through your work. Thanks so much!
Thanks, I’ve just now noticed your David Thomas who was in his 70’s in 1870. Does the name David appear in the slave census for 1860? There was a David Thomas, son of Asa Thomas, who served in the Revolutionary War. David applied in the 1850’s Wake NC for a Rev War pension as a descendant of Asa who died in Rowan after living in Anson NC. David married Penny Jones which is an old southern Wake family. There was also Hillery Thomas who was Free People of Color who lived in the area as of the 1780’s. Hillery may have moved north to Franklin County though I think his son, or grandson was married later in Wake. Your David likely descends out of slavery but could as well be of free people. That’s a concept greatly misunderstood and overlooked. I’m presently working on a book on subject and am at the moment stalled due to covid related closures of the state archives.
I’ve just found your blog entry on the Thomas family in Bertie County. I am back to the Michaels and Josephs trying to decide which is which so your blog helped me immensely and I do believe I can add a bit of clarity back that far. My ancestors never left Bertie (where I was born). I’d really be interested in your “Our Thomas family” FB page if it still exists; I couldn’t find it. If it’s still there could I have an invite?
Wanda, and I see from your “Collins” name that you MUST be related. Wonderful! Our FB group is THOMAS FAMILIES FROM NORTHEAST NORTH CAROLINA ..We’d love to have you in our group!
I just read your article A Veterans’s Story. In it you mention James Hathcock deeding “the green tracts (4-343. Stanly)” to Solomon Hathcock in 1853. If you have a copy of the deeds for those tracts, I would appreciate it if you would email me a copy of them.
I believe this James Hathcock is James Wesley Hathcock whose parents were James Hathcock and Easter/Esther Honeycutt. James and Easter/Esther were my 3rd great-grandparents. I am hoping the deeds will establish the relationship between the two James Hathcocks, since I believe the two tracts originally belonged to the elder James Hathcock whose eldest son was named James Wesley Hathcock.
An 1853 deed is listed in the index of the Family History Library in the Salt Lake City microfilm for the Stanly Co., NC land records. However, the microfilm with the deeds doesn’t start until 1854. I am hoping the deed will say the land James is selling came from his father James.
Thank you for your careful work. I have benefited from it before through John Blair Hagler; I also have Hagler ancestors. And Michael Christman, Sr. of Mecklenburg Co., NC was my 3rd great grandfather.
Carole Irene Crismon Cook
My email address is below.
The deed is 4:243 and is in line at http://www.stanlyrod.net
Thank you sir and hopefully that will be a help to Carole. It is a lot of fun plowing old records!
I am a descendant of John Bushrod Crump Sr. by his son Stephen Crump Sr. who was supposed to have been a major land owner north of Rocky River and south southeast of Cottonville.
Have you come across any items related to the Crump’s?
I am not a descendant of John Thomas (as far as I know), but I have been working the skinny branches of my family tree to sort out some of my relations. I am descended from the Alexanders who settled in Albemarle County, Carolina Province about 1700. I have been sorting out a Lillington connection. This is my path to John Thomas:
Christian Ludford/Ledford born about 1704 married Joseph Alexander my 5x great uncle and she was a witness on the will of Anthony Alexander (1666-1741), Joseph’s father and my 6x great grandfather. An Edward Linington/Lillington (possibly 1670-1736) shows up as executor in documents associated with Christian and some researchers believe Christian was the mother of Christian Linington/Lillington Malone (born in 1715). But the math does work for me.
So tracking Lillingtons, I came to Benjamin Lillington who married Katherine widow of John Thomas. Researching Benjamin and Katherine, I found an Alston/Allston Family history (published 1901) that believes Katherine is Katherine Hutchinson born 1629, daughter of Ann Hutchinson. Whatever her maiden name, Benjamin Lillington and Katherine had several sons including Edward Linington/Lillington born about 1670 in Virginia and died in Craven County, North Carolina in 1736.
Now some thoughts on interpretations of historical records:
1) Transports into Virginia (and other British Colonies) for headrights sometimes were from other colonies, not just from England. Despite testimony by Thomas London twenty years after the fact did Katherine and James actually come directly from England? Is there mention in the records for headright transports that confirm their place of departure?
2) That Lillington thing: In the records for James Thomas in 1666 and for Edward Thomas in 1672, reference to “father-in-law” often meant stepfather. Are there other records that indicate that Benjamin had children from a previous marriage that could have married his stepsons?
Rev. John Thomas was the first known pastor in 1789 of Little Stevens Creek Baptist Church in Edgefield County, SC. When John Asplund made his famous journey recording Baptist churches we were a thriving church with 50 members. The puzzle right now is which Rev. John Thomas. It appears that both John Sr. and John Jr. were here as they had land here, but they traveled on across the Savannah River into Georgia. I firmly believe that John Sr. is the one who crossed the River first. I know about Toisenot Baptist Church in Wilson County, NC and the fact that his father preached at the Welsh Neck church in SC before coming to Edgefield. Are there any of his relatives or researchers on this site that would like to exchange information?
Carol Hardy Bryan
Hey George, I have a book of old family history from Allen (Allin) Thomas & Nancy Ann Weldon. The person that compiled this was wondering if Allen’s dad was a Joseph Thomas 1775-1835, owned 119 acres on a moore county 1815 tax list. Anyway, didn’t know if that would help.
I’m betting the 1815 land in Moore belonged to Joseph’s son of same name, being Joseph Thomas, brother of said Allen. Allen’s dad owned land south of Memphis church and Allen’s land was southwest of the church. I’d love to meet this person to talk over details…
Well, I was just reading the researcher’s thoughts as they were written in the family history book. They have long since passed. It’s a history of ancestors of Charlie Chalmers & Foster Watson. Early history was done by the late JK Thomas in Florence SC. Others that had a hand in it were Annie Ruth Millikin, Roger Millikin, Joyce Badgett & Barbara Maddox, probably most from Sanford. The book that was bequeathed to me is from 1989. We used to have Thomas reunions at Shallowell Baptist Church in Sanford.