Author Archives: geothos

Solomon’s Daddy

josh tax 1I love days like today’s visit to NC State Archives. I go there in hopes of opening some new door to our past. And as for today’s visit, no longer will there ever be a shred of doubt as our Burris family brick wall has clearly come down. We can now fully claim Joshua Burris Senior to be our ancestor. Take a look at the above tax list from 1772 Bertie County and then look below for a closer view.

josh tax 2


longThis week I’ve spent a lot of time in both book and mind walking the banks of Long Creek. I hope to learn something new of the Taylor family and how they might have connected to my Solomon Burris family. Remember, it is believed that Solomon married Judith Taylor and we know that the couple in turn had a son Taylor Burris.

It seems something new and different is learned each time I poke my nose into land records. This outing was no different as the records led me to a fellow named Samuel Strudwick. All of us with roots in Stanly County know of important locals and of family traditions running deep. But, of that number, how many do you know who were seriously important? And of that dwindling number, how many had life stories spanning the ocean blue? This fellow called Samuel fits that bill.

In 1795, Thomas Lowder’s 200 acre grant (2514 Montgomery) on Long Creek was identified as joining the lands of Joseph Thomason, Frederick Hinson, Hudson Taylor, and “the Strudwick Tract.” Curious of the name Strudwick I turned to which was created by my distant cousin David McCorkle. Ananias Thomas who died in 1867 Union County NC is a common ancestor to both David and me. Let’s look closer at the life of Samuel Strudwick.


stagSamuel Strudwick acquired 10,000 acres in New Hanover County along with 30,000 acres in the Haw Old Fields of Orange County. For a time he lived at Stag Park on the 10,000 acres located near present day Burgaw. Samuel acquired the total of 40,000 acres by way of a 1736 debt owed by North Carolina Governor George Burrington to the said Samuel’s father Edmond. Landing at Brunswick along-side Governor William Tryon, in 1756 Samuel sought to take possession of his father’s lands in Orange County. Reaching Orange County he learned that squatters and others had already claimed much of the land. However, in September 1761 Samuel was able to formally purchase Governor Burrington’s sizable holdings.

Samuel Strudwick was among the cultural elite. Appointed to two of the most lucrative positions in State Government, he became Secretary and Clerk of North Carolina Pleas.

Prior to the Revolution, in 1775, Samuel Strudwick received grants for 4 (one square mile) tracts situated on the north side of Lake Matamuskeet in Hyde County. He also received several grants totaling about 1000 acres in New Hanover County.

As for this story, in early Anson County, Samuel Strudwick received 28 patents including those for land on Cartledge Creek, Cheeks Creek, and Long Creek in what’s now Stanly County. Seven of the 28 tracts were located on Long Creek and note that all 28 patents aforementioned were issued in 1775.

As war broke out Samuel Strudwick retreated to his Haw River plantation on the Upper Cape Fear near Hillsboro. He eventually died ca. 1794 with legal records in England later accounting for a legal battle as his grandson attempted to claim inheritance lands in England ( The English Reports – 1904) :

strudwick case

I’ve found no record of Samuel’s disposal of his Anson County lands. However, their location becomes known to us today through the close inspection of later land transactions

(Deed 3-60 Stanly), dated 7 June 1828, Thomas Lowder conveyed to Daniel Lowder two tracts of land on Long Creek. The first was originally granted to John Cooper in 1774. And as drawn in he survey below, the second tract is identified as being granted to Samuel Strudwick in 1775. By 1828 the metes and bounds had changed with language connecting the tract to the lands of William Weaver and Samuel Lowder. Note the notch cut out of the 1828 deed (red)? As we go forward, this will be an important element in connecting one of Strudwick’s tracts to others.


And now I introduce Mr. Daniel Moose. Back in 1775 when Strudwick’s above land was issued, there were but a hand full of people living along the creeks in what’s now Stanly County. Taking advantage of being among the first arrivals, it was neither desirable nor practical for people like Samuel Strudwick to patent land closely adjoining others. The resulting landscape created odd gaps meandering through a patchwork pattern of properly shaped square and rectangular tracts. And in this case, it wasn’t until 1829 that the crazy shaped negative space was back filled when Daniel Moose received a 250 acres patent for one of the oddest and yet most telling pieces of land I have ever found:

Daniel Moose

In 1830 Daniel Moose received the above 250 acre tract (2563 Montgomery) situated on a fork of Long Creek. The land adjoins, takes in, and is key to locating other earlier granted pieces of land including that originally patented by Thomas Lowder, Daniel Lowder, Samuel Lowder, David Kendall, Nimrod Taylor, William Weaver, Nehemiah Hearne, John Poplin, Hudson Taylor, Lucy Thomason, Arnold Thomason, Frederick Hinson, Joseph Thomason, Isaac Cauble, Jesse Hathcock, Foggleman, John Cooper and yes, …Samuel Strudwick.

Looking back to Samuel Strudwick’s 100 acres, remember the curious red notch added when the land was later conveyed by Thomas Lowder to George Lowder? Note the survey for Daniel Moose’s land honors the notch with a matching appendage (red) that allows us to clearly identify the 1775 Strudwick tract.

The following puzzled collage of hand drawn land grants carries this theme a bit further. I’ve colored Daniel Moose’s 250 acres yellow and you can see how it wraps around Samuel Strudwick’s patent which was later sold by Thomas Lowder. The Thomason lands are to the south and several of Hudson Taylor’s tracts appear to the east.

Bid Moose.jpg

I’ve yet to physically locate the above on today’s maps though I believe the Creek as shown may illustrate the fork of Little and Big Long Creek which is located a little south of 24/27 and west of Aquadale Road.

In closing, this little journey has opened my eyes into the lives of those living along Long Creek. And yet, I have to wonder.  It must be further pointed out that Samuel Strdwick acquired 30,000 acres on the Haw River in Orange County upon which his children resided well into the 1800’s.  We also know that the late 1700’s migration to the Long Creek area included many people who lived earlier in Orange County. And remember that Samuel Strudwick complained of a multitude of people who had squatted on his land along the Haw River.  As for me, I have to wonder if there is any connection between Strudwick’s actions and the move of others to now Stanly County?  Were people kicked off of their land or had the Studwick family enticed or been a part of an advertised scheme to relocate people?

The story of Samuel Strudwick is indeed pretty cool and one worth retelling when in conversation about the founding of Stanly County. But much more than that, Strudwick is but a piece of the puzzle that will hopefully lead us to a better understanding of all our ancestors. Note that the fork of Little Long Branch lies a short distance to the east of Solomon Burris’s purchase on Scaly Bark Branch. And, people in this report appear as witnesses in the title history of that land. My walk along the records of Long Creek surely passed over Solomon’s early neighborhood. But, much more research is needed to call it home. So let’s get to it in hopes of figuring out how this story may end!



DSC_7874There’s a William Howell Taylor, a William Harvey Taylor and numerous families from North Carolina, Tennessee and even Indiana claim persons named William Hudson Taylor. As a matter of fact, I remain gobsmacked in learning that a possibly related William Hudson Taylor is buried at Arba cemetery in Randolph County Indiana. I remember back in the 1990’s driving out one foggy morning through the broad corn fields on my way to this cemetery. It was my intentions to learn more about a Quaker line of Thomas once believed to be my kin. I learned that Benjamin Thomas interred in the cemetery is not my kin, but some say William Hudson Taylor who is buried there …just might be. He is believed to be the son of Hudson Taylor Senior of now Stanly County  North Carolina.  How did this guy end up in Indiana and what’s his story!!??

Over the next few months I’ll be pondering the Taylor family; of complicated bits of a story even more tangled by the nature of land records along the Rocky River here in North Carolina. And, as for this post, I’d like to share with you a most amazing court case. Raised by Doctor F. Mann against William H. Taylor, the suit offers a glimpse into family lands while carrying the most studious of us back to the earliest days to the backwoods of western North Carolina. The story also links us to an important time and to the family who was first in America to make a profit mining gold.


Indebted in the sum of $28.80; a cow, a calf, and a rifle gun were conveyed by Hudson Taylor to William H. Taylor on 15 Mar 1843. The transaction was witnessed by Isaac Biles who must be related to Hudson Taylor Senior’s daughter Dovey who happened to marry Alexander Biles.

And then, dated 23 Jan 1854, Daniel Freeman sold to W. H. Taylor 174 acres (3-314 Stanly) situated “on the fork of a branch.” The land was originally part of a huge tract granted to speculators Thomas Carson, William Moore, and Barnabas Dunn. Within the body of the deed, W. H. Taylor is referred to as Howell Taylor.” 

Rising out of the Stanly County Superior Court in 1854, a suit of ejectment filed by Dock F. Mann against William H. Taylor reached the North Carolina State Supreme Court. At issue was the grounds and validity of an ancient ten year agreement pertaining to the above 174 acres. At the time of the suit, the 174 acres was identified as adjoining the lands of George Reed, brother of Conrad Reed who’s credited as the first non-native person to discover gold in America.

In locating the 174 acres, an earlier conveyance from Stephen Kirk to Thomas J. Shinn was offered as evidence. Dated 13 Aug 1833, Stephen Kirk sold a whopping 1,999 acre tract excepting 200 acres which had been deeded to Tucker and Shinn. Further depositions in the case show the 1,999 acres later fell into the hands of one Hartsell before being sold to Doctor F. Mann.

From the metes and bounds, we know the 1,999 acres lies upon “the waters of Reedy Branch” with one corner being described as “a persimmon in the line of Tract 2.” Then, running southerly, the next line ends at Shinn’s, Smith’s, and Tucker’s corner. Emphasis on placing the disputed land along  what’s referred to as Great Tract 2 is crucial and a point that I believe may have been played in error.

Also brought into evidence, the above deed lies within an Aug 1745 grant of 12,500 acres to Arthur Dobbs of Castle Dobbs, Ireland. The 1,999 acres had been subdivided from the tremendous 12,500 acres and in 1745 was described as being located on Johnston River (now Rocky). The tract was but a small portion of twelve 100,000 acre tracts totaling 1,200,000 acres all together.


The defendant, William H. Taylor, introduced David Kizor who swore in testimony:

“…that about some 40 years since [aprox. 1814], he was present at the trial of a suit in Cabarrus County court & then heard one Love who was sworn and who is since dead & who testified on said trail in Cabarrus that there was a post oak marked as a corner at the Gum Pond and that the post oak was said to be a corner of tract number two of the Big Survey.

William Stancel, a surveyor testified he had surveyed the land in controversy & began as directed finding no corner there or pointes, and then east on an old marked line towards the Gum Pond – that the line looked old though he did not box any trees – and said marked line did not continue the length of the line he was surveying for the plaintiff, but only part of the way and he found no corner at the gum pond.”

The court ruled against a new trial based on:

1. Upon the ground that the Dobbs grant was void upon its face for uncertainty & could not be located
2. That the evidence was not sufficient to locate the Dobbs Grant
3. That the proof as to the seven years possession by the plaintiff & those under whom he claimed was not sufficient

At Superior Court, a new trial was refused, the rule discharged & judgement was made for the plaintiff. The defendant, William Howell Taylor, prayed an appeal which was granted. I’m not sure how the Supreme Court case ended though it seems the archaic stipulations from the 1745 grant along with the inability to properly locate the land would have played an evidentiary role in determining the outcome. I believe the Doctor F. Mann won the battle in court.

Let’s take a look at some of the Taylor lands, particularly those related to the case. Let’s look at William Howell Taylor, his family, and his parents Hudson and Rhoda Kettle Taylor.

Stanfield, NC, 1:24,000 quad, 1971, USGS

The huge yellow tract shown above represents the 1,999 acres sold by Stephen Kirk to Thomas J Shinn. The tract’s visual portrayal north and south along the Cabarrus line should not be considered perfectly accurate. However, I’m sure it’s location is close enough for this discussion. Note from the legal description below that the northern boundary (north of present day 24/27) adjoins “Tract 2.” For sure, that statement refers to the east/west dividing line running between Great Tracts 2 and 5. As a matter of fact, study the inset map above and you should be able to place the 1,999 acres as being in the extreme northeast corner of Great Tract 2.

The title history below represents the breakup of the 1,999 acres along with the land (in GREEN) that was at center of Doc. F. Mann’s law suit. A deed from Thomas J. Shinn to Conrad Reed [the little boy who finds gold while playing in nearby Little Meadow Creek] is identified in green as being tract A above. Looking below,  you’ll notice that both Doc F. Mann and William H [Howell] Taylor claimed ownership of the same piece of land. The eastern half (checkerboarded) of Conrad Reed’s land (Tract “A”), being the disputed land, seems to adjoin the north to south dividing line between Great Tracts # 1 and 2. Take a look at the inset image above. However, I’m not so sure as grants and other deeds indicate the boundary line should run very close to Hwy 200. Something is amiss. Anyhow, take a look at the following:

Deed 4-2 Stanly, 13 Aug 1833, reg. Aug 1854. Stephen Kirk to Thomas J. Shinn, being 1,999 acres on the waters of Reedy Branch except 200 acres deeded to Tucker and Shinn. Beginning at a stake in the county line and runs with the line north 26 east 1120 poles to a persimmon in the line of tract #2 in a field, then east 120 poles to a white oak Shinn’s, Smith’s, & Tucker’s corner, then their line south 1100 poles to John Forest’s corner, then along his line west 520 poles to the beginning. Wit: Littleton C. Shinn, P. Kirk.

Deed 3-357 Montgomery, 22 Oct 1833, reg. Jun 1854. Thomas J. Shinn of Montgomery to Conrad Reed of Cabarrus being 370 acres on Rockhole Creek. Beginning at a pine near George Reed’s corner, then 320 poles to Shinn’s, Smith’s & Tucker’s line, then with line south 174 poles to a Spanish oak in said line at the fork of two branches, then west 180 poles to a stake near a road in said Reed’s line, then north 47 west 90 poles to a stake in said Reed’s corner, then his line south 60 west 108 poles to a stake in Reed’s line, then south 47 east 14 poles to a stake in said Reed’s line, then west 98 poles to said Reed’s line, then north 42 poles with said line to a red oak, a corner of said Reed’s, then north 30 east 64 poles to a white oak a corner of said Reed’s & George Reed’s corner, then north 48 east 118 poles to the beginning. Wit: James L Reed, James M. Shinn.

Deed 3-364 Stanly, 18 Feb 1836, reg. 26 Jun 1854. Paul B. Barringer to John Reed, being 174 acres, part of the lands of Conrad Reed deceased joining the lands of George Reed and No. 2 in the division of Reed’s lands. Wit: James M. Shinn.

Deed 3-363 Stanly, 25 Nov 1836, reg. Jun 1854. John Reed to Andrew Hartsell, being 174 acres (known as #2 of Conrad Reed dec’d) beginning at George Reed’s line then running south 174 poles, then east 160 poles to a red oak, then north 174 poles, then west to the beginning. Wit: George Barnhardt, John P. Craton.

Deed 3-384, Stanly, 27 Jun 1854, reg. Sep 1854. Andrew Hartsell to Doc F. Mann, being 174 acres known as #2 of the division of Conrad Reed deceased lands. Wit: Joshua Hartsell, A. Honeycutt.

Deed 3-314 Stanly, 23 Jan 1854, reg. Feb 1854. Daniel Freeman of Stanly to W. H. [Howell] Taylor of Cabarrus. Being 170 acres, a part of a large tract granted to Thomas Carson, William Moore, and Barnabas Dunn. Beginning at a stake, Spanish oak, and post oak at the fork of a branch, and runs west 152 poles to a stake, hickory, & black gum; then north 170 poles to a stake, Spanish oak, black Jack and two post oaks; then east 152 poles to stake by two red oaks & sassafras; then south 1 west 177 poles to the beginning. Wit: A. C. Freeman.

Note that the above tract was indeed subdivided from the 1,999 acres of which the northern most line is referred to as being “the line of Tract 2”. But, the division of Conrad Reed’s land is further south and does not join the Great Tract boundary line. Instead, the title history for the subdivided 1,999 acres consistently mentions George Reed’s land along with the line of Conrad’s Tract # 2. In my humble opinion, I think the legal action occurred in error out of a confusion between a line in the Great Tract #2 and tract #2 of the lands of Conrad Reed deceased. But wow, even if so, look at what such a simple mistake offers us! And, before leaving the “green zone” of this story, please take a look at tract “B” located to the north of Conrad’s land. It’s the lands of Conrad’s brother George frequently referred to in the above title history:

Tract B – Deed 3-239 Stanly, 26 Oct 1833, reg. Feb 1853. Thomas J. Shinn to George Reed, being 217 acres on Rockhole Creek and Daniels Branch. Beginning at a pine (dead) near a road in George Reed’s corner, then east 320 poles to a stake in a field, Shinn’s, Smith’s. & Tucker’s line, then their line north 112 to a stake, then west 38 poles to a stake, then south 6 west 10 poles to a stake, then south 84 west 158 poles to a stake, then north 6 east 15 poles to a stake, then west 140 poles to a black oak in said Reed’s corner (known by the name of Howell’s corner), then south 112 to the beginning. Wit: R. Shinn, James M. Shinn.

In reading the above, did you notice the red flag? We know from deeds that William H. Taylor’s middle name is Howell. And, here, upon the land nearly adjoining the said Doc F. Mann’s disputed tract is a corner known as “Howell’s.” Wow! So, who is this Howell person and does he have a place in our story?

Deed 13-787 Mecklenburg, 8 June 1785, Thomas Harris Esq. Sheriff to Joseph Howell. Being 100 acres of Dr. David Oliphant’s land “within tract 2” and situated on the east side of Rocky River. Beginning at a black oak and runs north 84 west 146 poles to a black oak, then north 21 west 68 poles to a pine, then north 52 east 88 poles to a black oak, Frederick Kiser’s line, then east 120 poles to a stake, then to the beginning. Wit: William Supples, Charles Harris.

Deed 5-20 Cabarrus, 7 Jan 1804, reg. Jan 1804. Joseph Howell to John Reed. Wit: James Love, Jonah Love.

Being the dark shaded cross hatched area in “C” above, note that Joseph Howell’s land fell into the hands of John Reed, father of Conrad and George. It’s easy to imagine the land as later belonging to John Reed’s sons. And then, in 1854, Joseph Howell’s 100 acres is sold as being part of a larger  conveyance to Henry Yow:

Deed 23-280 Stanly, 27 Mar 1861, reg. Sep 1898. L. G. Heilig & J. M. Harkey of Cabarrus to Henry Yow of Stanly. Being 250 acres of “land upon which the widow of George Reed Dec’d has a dower assigned to her.” Beginning at Rocky River at Howell’s Branch, then up said branch 58 poles to a stake by 2 white oaks, then north 55 east 15 poles to a black oak, then east 136 poles to a black oak and red oak, then south 8 west 5 poles to a post oak, then south 8 west 110 poles to a pine stump corner, a corner of No. 2, then south 57 ½ west 118 poles to a white oak, then south 77 west 193 to a small pine in Rocky River, then up the river to the beginning. Wit: Henry Reed.

So, at this point we clearly see why George Reed’s tract “B” above would mention “Howell’s Corner.” And, we now know the stream which anchors tract “C” on map is named “Howell Branch.” I’d like to be able to declare that William Howell Taylor is somehow related to this much earlier Joseph Howell. However, I don’t have that answer and will leave its discovery to others. For now, let’s turn from the Green Shaded Tracts to the Red Shaded Tracts reflecting the family of William Howell Taylor.

We believe that Hudson Taylor Jr. married first to Elizabeth Howell whose relation to the above Joseph Howell is unknown to me. I believe William Howell Taylor is the son of Elizabeth and therefore carries the name of her family.

Following the death of wife Elizabeth, records show that Hudson Taylor Junior shared financial interests with a lady named Rhoda Kettle. It wasn’t until a considerable amount of time after being identified with Hudson that Rhoda actually married Hudson Taylor Junior. I’ve been unable to locate Rhoda’s parents though I wonder if her name is correct? You see, her lands are located close to George Kestler and others of that surname. Though a stretch of imagination, is it possible Rhoda’s maiden name is Kestler?

Take a look below at the information on the lands (Shaded Red) in western Stanly County belonging to the family of Rhoda Kettle and Hudson Taylor Jr:

Tract D: Grant 1729 Montgomery, ent. 8 Apr 1803, iss. 16 Mar 1805. Issued to Henry Kagle, being 145 acres on Camp Branch of Rocky River including his own improvements.

Deed 1-229 Stanly, 20 Feb 1844, reg. Nov 1844. Jere Adderton to Rhoda Kittle being 81 acres on Camp Branch of Rocky River and is part of a tract originally “granted to Henry Cagle in Oct 1803”. Wit: G Shankle, Isaac Biles.

Deed 6-449 Stanly, 30 Aug 1867 reg. Sep 1869. Rhoda Kettle to Allen Helms both of Union County. Wit: Green B. and William A. Helms

To the south of the above is a tract “E” above which was sold by Rhody Kettle to Edwin Taylor. Edwin is believed to be the son of Rhoda and Hudson Taylor Junior. Note that Rhoda still uses her maiden name which raises questions as to her marital status. And, I’ve found no record indicating how Rhoda acquired Tract “E”:

Tract E: 9-80 Stanly, 15 Apr 1862, reg. Sep 1873. Rhody Kettle to Edwin Taylor, both of Stanly County. Being 126 ½ acres joining Laban Little, Levi Furr, and Jacob W. Little. Wit: Adam P Furr, John D. Taylor.

To the west, on the east bank of Rocky River, William Howell Taylor received a portion of land originating with John Polk before passing through the hands of Henry Cagle and the division of Frederick Kiser’s land. Identified in the illustration above as Tract “F”, the land adjoins the western lines of Rhoda Kettle’s land:

Tract F: Deed 7-182 Cabarrus, 24 Dec 1800. John Polk to Henry Cagle. Wit: Wm. Polk.

Deed 11-77 Cabarrus, 20 Aug 1828. Henry Cagle Sr. to Henry Cagle Jr.

Deed 11-335 Cabarrus, 20 Aug 1828, reg. Jan 1831. Henry Kiser to Frederick Kiser being 200 acres. Wit: Wm. Creaton, David Kiser.

Deed 24-169, Cabarrus Spring 1839, reg. Sep 1872. Division of Frederick Kiser Deceased. Being Lot # 2 of said division to Emily Edmunston.

Deed 6-13 Stanly, 29 Dec 1859, reg. Sep 1861. Laban Zebulon M Little of Mecklenburg to William H. Taylor of Cabarrus, being 80 acres on the north side of Rocky River in both Stanly and Cabarrus Counties. Attest: L. A. Russell, C. H. Polk.

Adjoining Henry Cagle’s Tract “D” to the north, Edmond and Catherine Bond received two grants in 1842. They are:

Tract G: Grant 21 Stanly, iss. 22 Oct 1842. Issued to Edward Bond, being 100 acres on Camp Branch adjoining Jacob W. Little and the Kizer tract along with David Kerr and Thomas Pinion.

Tract H: Grant 20 Stanly, iss. 22 Oct 1842, Issued to Catherine Bond, being 100 acres on Camp Branch adjoining Edward Bond, Thomas Pinion, Benjamin Pinion and Jacob W. Little

Edward and Catherine Bond moved to Cabarrus County with no deed showing the sale of their grants. And then, in 1854, Nelson Taylor, sold a large tract of 274 acres in which the two Bond grants can be placed. Who is Nelson Taylor?

Deed 4-54 Stanly, 29 Nov 1854, reg. Dec 1854. Nelson Taylor to Daniel Freeman, being 274 acres on Camp Branch. Beginning at a stake, three black jacks and pine, then west 11.75 chains to a stake by post oak & dog wood in J. M. Little’s line, then north 10 chains to a small red oak (his corner), then north 45 west 6.5 chains to a hickory, post oak, & red oak, then with his line west crossing Camp Branch 29 chains to a post oak, dogwood, red oak, then north 65 west 4 chains to a stake by three red oaks (Little’s Corner), then north 40 east 47.25 chains to a black jack, small hickory, and pine, then (with Drake’s line) east 51 chains to a small pine near a branch two pines and post oaks, then south 40 chains to a small post oak (in Jonah Love’s line), then with Jonah Love’s line south 80 west (Crossing Polk Road) 20.5 chains to a post oak, then south 50 west 8 chains to a post oak above the wall spring, then to the beginning. Wit: . O. Ross.


Born ca. 1825, from estate records we know that William Howell Taylor married Mary, the daughter of Solomon Hartsell. Both Mary and her husband W. H. Taylor are mentioned in Solomon’s loose estate papers. There are several articles in the newpspers about Howell Taylor.  In one, he was charged with illegally selling alcohol while another the burning of his barn and livestock. Howell Taylor lived a long life and died 10 Sep 1906 according to what’s found on findagrave. There, it says that W H Taylor and wife Mary are buried at Love’s Grove UMC. However, a newspaper article out of Salisbury marks Howell’s death as being a year earlier. The following appears in the Carolina Watchman:

20 Sep 1905


stony run tract

Working with land records, it amazes me how everyday new parts to a story are pieced together and yet each added parcel has the power to change the very core of the story already being told.

I was recently given a package of documents including the above land grant entry in the name of Solomon Burris. Made on March 5 for 100 acres, the land requested was situated on the waters of Stony Run. Normally, when applying to receive a land grant, the entry is written chronologically into a book containing successive requests by others. Each entry is identified sequentially by a distinct entry number. On the other hand, not copied from a book, what I see above has no entry number and appears to be written on a slip of paper. Note that both the county and year are missing. This is not normal! What is this and where did the record come from???!!!

Visiting NC Archives, I looked through the entry books for both Montgomery and Stanly counties where I found no mention of Solomon Burris entering land on Stony Run. At that point I realized for certain that the information on the slip of paper was never officially recorded in the county entry book. Though the writing is entry related, my question remains. What exactly is it? Given to me as a mysterious entry written on a slip of paper, I have no answer as to the record’s origin.


Entered 8 Mar 1836, John Honeycutt was issued 100 acres on 2 Mar 1838 (Grant 2786, Montgomery). From the official order to the surveyor, the land is described as being “one hundred acres for John Honeycutt adjoining George Cagle and Solomon’s Burris’ lines on the drains of Stony Run.” The statement corroborates what’s written above on Solomon’s entry. However, though mentioned in the entry, the actual survey for Honeycutt’s land (below) does not appear in the survey.

john honeycutt land

Even though I don’t know its source, the entry of Solomon Burris provides a very important clue as to the location of Solomon’s land …but, which Solomon? Publishing my thoughts online, it didn’t take long for Burris family historian Brenda Combs to point out a very real concern. As for Solomon, Brenda alerted me to the dilemma that there was a Solomon Burris Senior as well as his son Solomon Burris Junior. Knowing from the slip that the land in the entry adjoined that of John Honeycutt, it’s also important to know that both Senior and Junior were alive when “Solomon” was named in John Honeycutt’s 1836 grant survey. The above could be attributed to either Solomon Senior or Junior. Regardless of who Solomon is, from the limited information provided in the above entry, is it possible to physically discern the location of the entry? Can we trace its history? Can we determine which Solomon requested the land grant on Stony Run?

I love responses and input by others as collective thought gives value and credence to what’s presented. Thank you Brenda! Brenda’s remarks encouraged me to review my work and to dig deeper. They drove me to a different direction completely changing the landscape of my original post.


Looking closely at the survey above, the naming of Stony Run and Flat Branch provides a solid starting point to locate John Honeycutt’s land. Note that the survey plat is drawn upside down! Once John Honeycutt’s 100 acre land grant is placed on a map, other important lands on the east side of Stony Run begin to fall into place. Before delving into that, take a short look at the following video which I created for my first attempt at writing this post (now deleted).


So, even though Solomon Burris’ entry never matured, it appears that both John Honeycutt and Solomon Burris intended on living beside each other. Is that what really took place?

From the Montgomery County Entry Book, I noticed (below) that over half of the entries are marked with a double-lined X (red) which I’m almost certain indicates the grant failed to mature. Note that in 1841 David W Burris made a failed request for a grant to be issued on Stony Run. The land in question was to adjoin Charles Cagle and Benjamin L Whitley (first image). And in the second image, note that John Honeycutt failed in his attempt to receive a grant for 50 acres. Though John Honeycutt’s grant failed to mature, we know from the video that surrounding tracts mention a 50 acre tract as though the grant was issued.

Having seen the situation repeated numerous times in Stanly County, I realized that like the others, this all arose in a jurisdictional confusion over land acquired via grant versus land acquired by sale. As an example, in 1842, James L Hartsell was issued a grant for 100 acres on Thorny Branch of Rockhole Creek (Stanly County grant #16). Seven years later, James L. Hartsell purchased the same land from James Adderton, agent for the Thornton Land Company. In short, the company represented Anna Marie Thornton who was the widow of William Thornton. William Thornton designed the United States Capitol Building and purchased over 40,000 acres in now Stanly County as part of his gold mining interests. Thornton purchased the land from Barnabas Dunn and several other speculators who originally acquired it by grant in the 1790’s.

So, as had happened to James L. Hartsell, I believe Solomon Burris applied for a grant on land that was already owned at that time.

Digging deeper into the deed books, I realized that I had overlooked an important deed made to Solomon Burris. On 3 May 1850, Solomon Burris purchased 89 acres (Deed 2-327) from John Ward, Jery Adderton, James Adderton, & Daniel Freeman. These men appear also to be agents working in relation to the Thornton land interests. Situated on Stony Run, the legal description for Solomon’s purchase mentions John Honeycutt’s 50 acres, the Deberry line, Daniel Reap’s land, and a “branch.” Witnesses were David Burris and Mcama Willis.

Armed with this additional information, I remade the above video placing the new piece of land among the other known tracts.  Hopefully you’ll see how Solomon’s land changes what I believed and wrote previously. Take a look:


Below is a snapshot of the Stanly County GIS map overlaid with some of the tracts identified in this post. Most of the land boundaries from the video are still recognizable today. Solomon Burris Junior’s 88 acre purchase from John Ward and others is the bubbly textured tract crossing over Stony Run. To the north and west of that tract is a checkerboard tract that was first acquired by McKammy Willis. It’s upon that land where Solomon and Judith Burris were first buried. Their bodies were later moved to Pleasant Grove Baptist in 1939. Also, the DeBerry line passes the northern boundary of both Solomon Burris Junior and McKammy Willis (Green line).


Green Tract – John Honeycutt 100 acres
(Grant 2786)

Yellow Tract – Solomon Burris, two tracts east of Stony Run.
(Deeds 79-179, 79-177)

Yellow (Bubbly) Tract – John Ward and others to Solomon Burris
(Deed 2-326) 3 May 1850

Checkerboarded Tract – William H. Randle to Kamy Willis
(Deed 3-20) 3 May 1850

Blue Tracts – Charlie and John Honeycutt to Andrew Honeycutt
(Deed 6-552) 29 Dec 1856

Pink Tracts – George Whitley tract with the smaller tract once belonging to
Benjamin Hathcock.

Light Red Tracts – Top of page, Caswell Perry to the west,Lewis C. Perry
to the east. (Grants 115, 120)





Sometimes you make a discovery and it’s as though you’re the only person in the world who has a clue. And then, there are times you learn something only to realize that you’ve made your way to the midst of others holding the same belief. Reading but a fraction of the many thousands of miles of available records on microfilm, I believe NC Archives is THE place in our state to learn who you are. Today at this wonderful place I made a discovery and it’s one like none I’ve made before.

Today’s visit started out like many in the past. But then, putting a quarter in the microfilm printer, I expected the machine to spit out the survey for Exodus Whitley’s land grant along the southern extent of Stony Run. You see, I’m trying to work my way up the creek in hopes of learning more about the neighbors of my Burris family. Reaching below the machine to retrieve my copy, I realized that besides my copies, there were actually two more that somebody had left in the machine. It’s a common mistake and in glancing at the papers, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

There before me was a copy of a return for John Poplin, Assignee of Benjamin Hathcock. Who is Benjamin Hathcock and what difference does it make? For the last six months I’ve spent countless hours working on understanding my Solomon Burris family history. Solomon’s daughter Nancy Ann is believed to have married Benjamin Hathcock. And, back in Chatham County NC, there were earlier connections between the Hathcock and Poplin families …as well as with the Taylor family. Note that Solomon’s wife Judith’s maiden name is Taylor and their son was named Taylor Burris. I’m researching all of this and yet, from the machine, out spit two copies of related records. Simply magical! What are the odds?

Sometimes spirits walk and in this case I have no idea what they were doing. For sure, someone was at archives prior to my arrival and they too had interests akin to mine. To whoever you are, I’m sure you miss the copies you left behind. It’s a small world but I can only imagine all the people who could have printed and left behind such copies. I’m amazed as this crossing of paths likely occurred amongst cousins. To whoever you are, I hope to see you at the Burris Reunion coming up in October!


dsc_4894Last spring while at the old Burris/Commie Willis Cemetery clean-up day, I asked Pam Holbrook if there was anything she’d like for me to research or find. Newly involved with  my Burris family heritage, I sought to place my efforts where they would best serve our family. Pam encouraged me to look into determining the exact location of Solomon Burris’ original 200 acre land grant. Also, knowing there was an old Burris school in the area; she thought it would be nice to locate and determine if any  structural remains survive. More on the second wish at a later date. Pertaining to all this, I’m scheduled to provide an update on my project at this year’s Burris Family Reunion to be held October 19, 2019. Come join us!

Solomon Burris and family acquired numerous tracts of land spreading from Stony Run to branches of Long Creek in present day Stanly County. In advance of the upcoming reunion, I’d like to offer this preview into locating Solomon’s first known land acquisition. It’s too complex to properly convey in a short public presentation ….so here we go…


Dated 2 Jan 1793, Solomon “Burres” entered a Secretary of State land grant for 200 acres situated on the southwest side of the Pee Dee River. The grant wasn’t issued until 7 Jun 1799. Within the legal description found on the 16 Jan 1795 survey, the tract is identified as lying on “the waters of Big Bear Creek …including Barton Daniels’ Improvement.” That’s all. There’s no further information as the title history has been lost due to arson and the 1835 burning of the Montgomery County courthouse.

Armed with the above, I’ve spent most of the spring and summer plowing through area land records in hopes of finding clues as to the true location of Solomon’s land. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that the pieces fell together.


Somewhere on the waters of Big Bear Creek, Solomon’s 200 acres (above) took on the shape of a large square. I began looking for the tract by searching deeds and the Stanly County GIS map in an area surrounding what we now believe to be the Burris lands. The area in question is in the vicinity of present day Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. Nothing jumped out in my search and the initial effort ultimately led to a dead end. However, I later learned that without knowing it, I had glossed right over the answer to my question. The process was not without value as I learned that Solomon’s son Joshua and others had acquired several tracts on the Big Branch of Bear Branch. The Big Branch loops west from Big Bear before flowing north as it passes by Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. Also, numerous tracts of land in the area originated through grants and early acquisitions by George Whitley. This is a good sign as George Whitley served as chain bearer in the 1797 survey for Solomon’s 200 acre tract.

I drew my circle larger and started looking farther afield. Things started to come together with the discovery of 55 acres on Ramsey’s Branch which in the deed, is said that the tract adjoined “the southeast Corner of Solomon Burris’ 200 acres.” Ramsey’s Branch flows in from the northeast, joining the Big Creek opposite the Big Branch and just north of Hwy 24/27. George C. Mendenhall of Guilford County sold the 55 acres to Needham Whitley (Deed 14-151). An attorney of Quaker stock, Mendenhall had once been disowned for his ownership of slaves. However, he was later memorialized for providing their freedom and removal as free people to the state of Ohio. George C. Mendenhall had purchased the land from Martin Almond


Adjoining the above Needham Whitley’s land to the east was a 78 acre tract granted to Nathan Coley. The land adjoined the said Whitley and the “Hey Meadow tract” to the north, the mill road to the east, and a tract to the southeast sold by Thomas A Coley to Joseph Morton. The latter tract joined the said Needham Whitley lands to the west and Joseph Morton to the south. To me this is all very interesting as I recently discovered that Jonathan Carpenter received a land grant “called the Hay Meadow.” Is it the same hay meadow mentioned in the deed? Jonathan has land ties to Solomon and also the family of Hudson Taylor.  Knowing Solomon married Judith Taylor, this all makes me question conventional wisdom. More on a later date.


Boundaries of land often change over time. With each new owner you might find mentions of new neighbors and different landmarks. Overlaying the above, a layer of connected lands gets us a bit closer to identifying Solomon’s grant (see next image). Conveyances of the sprawling tract to the right passed through the hands of Needham Whitley, Green Whitley, and George W. Whitley (Deeds 14-149 and 14-15). The path of Ramsey’s Branch becomes more clearly defined by the zig-zag western edge of the tract. Note the lower westerly appendage of the tract was earlier purchased by Needham Whitley from George C. Mendenhall (Deed 14-179). This tract is identified as joining “The old Burrough’s tract to the north.” To the south and west of the sprawling tract is a tract conveyed from George C. and James Mendenhall to Joseph Morton. It wraps the northeast corner of a small tract of 37 1/3 acres which George Whitley sold to Joseph Morton.


As for the far left tract in the above, Edward Deberry sold 70 acres (green) to Joseph Morton. The upper or northern line in this tract is identified as adjoining Solomon Burris’ land. And, of great importance, the lower or southern line crosses the Red Bank Branch. Where is that? It’s just to the west of Ramsey and therefore to the east of Big Bear. Finding this branch would certainly lead us beyond this maze of deeds to the place Solomon Burris once called home.

In 1866, Joseph Morton sold the above 70 acre Edward Deberry tract to Jonas Hartsell. At that time Joseph also conveyed a 22 ½ acre tract (yellow) between the 70 acre tract and Morton’s 37 ½ acres lying to the east (Deed 17-296). Note that one of the corners adjoining the southeast corner of the 70 acre tract states that the 70 acres once belonging to “Daniels.” Daniels! …this is perfect! Solomon owned the land to the north of the 70 acres which in the 1790’s survey is written: “including Barton Daniels’ Improvements.” And then, by the 1860’s, land to the south of Solomon’s tract is then identified as that belonging to “Daniels.”

Adding a final layer, as seen below, the title history for the land  captured by the large sprawling tract becomes more complete. Being the Lilly tract or otherwise known as Lot #2 of the division of Christian Burris, the 38 ½ acre tract (pink) was conveyed by Jacob C. Efird and wife Beada to Richard C. Lowder (Deed 43-68). The 1902 conveyance is for land once situated to the east of Solomon Burris’ 200 acres. The new deed indicates that Solomon’s old land was once owned by “Eli Honeycutt.” And, to the north, in 1900 Richard C. Lowder purchased 58 ½ acres (blue) from S. S. and wife M. E. Lilly (Deed 25-344). That tract is identified as being ”Lot #1 of the Division land.” This all shows us the Burris family remained in the area of Solomon’s 200 acre grant.


So, at this point, we know Solomon’s 200 acre tract, or a part thereof, later fell into the hands of Eli Honeycutt. The tract adjoined Needham Whitley land to the east and southeast. Either Paul or Barton Daniels owned land to the south of Solomon’s 200 acres. And, Red Bank Creek flowed through Solomon’s land prior to passing through what was once the Daniels’ tract. Locate today’s Red Bank Branch and we’ll locate Solomon’s land.


Returning to the Stanly County GIS site, I looked for trapezoidal shaped tracts comparable to the 70 acre tract once belonging to a member of the Daniels family. In the map below, the yellow tract fits the bill perfectly. It has bearings similar to the 70 acre tract and its western line parallels a branch that passes through a large square framed area of tracts to the north before flowing into Big Bear. The stream must be Red Bank Branch and the large tract to the north must be Solomon’s 200 acres. Going a bit further, lines of surrounding tracts are very similar in shape to those I’ve outlined as joining Solomon’s land. Without doubt, the GIS image below captures the lands of Solomon. But, what does the land look like from overhead, from the close-up view of a satellite? Look at the last Google Maps image and you’ll see that some 200 years after originally being granted, the lines of Solomon’s 200 acre grant are still clearly visible today. Look closely and you’ll see field and wood lines echoing the ancient land boundaries. And, of all things, the area of Solomon’s tract is the biggest thing you see on the one road in Stanly County that carries our family name. Yes, Solomon Burris’ 200 acres takes up much of the landscape on both sides of “Burris Road.” …a note to self, next time begin your search on the one road named for your family!

Solomon's land.v2

From Stanly County GIS Site: Solomon’s land is in red

Solomon final

Similar as above, though seen as a Google satellite image.



Here it is the end of August and the winds are threatening the shores of Florida.  As predictable as the storms of late summer, it’s also time to renew interests in family history; a time to get out and increase your understanding of family; and best of all, a time to find new cousins at your favorite family reunion. In this post I’d like to take a little bit of your time to share upcoming events as we move into the very special season of Family. I hope you get involved and look forward to seeing you soon!



In September I look forward to being the presenter the Stanly County Genealogical Society Meeting. The subject will be on the lands of Western Stanly County, a subject that I’ve dedicated much of the past two years researching. I look especially forward to opening the doors to new ways of thinking when researching this old and most unique of places. Here’s a bit on what will be covered as well as specifics on the meeting:


Interested in learning who first lived on the land you call home? In terms of family history, would you like to learn where your GGG-Grandparents lived and who their neighbors were? And, digging a little deeper, who did your ancestors buy land from and what happened to it when they died or moved away? George Thomas will share findings of his in-depth mapping project covering original land ownership for much of western Stanly County. Unique among all the counties in North Carolina, Stanly has a land history rich beyond the norm. It’s all much deeper than what you’ve heard from your elders. Plan on coming early as beginning at 5:30 pm, George will have much of his working land plats out and made available for you to browse.

When: Monday, Sep 23, 6:30-8:00 pm
Where: Stanly County Public Library, Albemarle NC



Have you ever been to a family reunion? If not, you’re missing a wonderful opportunity to learn who you really are, to build new family, and to share in one of the best meals you’ll eat all year!

Last year was the first time I participated in the Burris Family Reunion and bet your dollar I’ll be back!. What a wonderful family gathering; taking place at the heart of who we are and where our family story began. So, come get involved and enjoy this special time meeting new cousins!

This year I’m appreciative to be one of the presenters. I look forward to sharing a little on what I’ve learned about the lands where Solomon and Judith first settled. Note that the subject is pretty darn deep and therefore cannot be told in a way that’s suitable for a reunion. It’s just too much information. Therefore, in preparation I’ll dedicate the next post to a discussion of Solomon’s first land grant. Take a look as doing so will help to ready you for the reunion.

Do you have Burris roots? If so, be there! And, please share this with any of your Burris cousins! Also, below is a copy of the invitation for this year’s reunion.

Saturday, October 19th …with Friday Night Dinner

The annual Solomon and Judith Taylor Burris Reunion will be held on Saturday,
October 19th at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church with registration and genealogical sharing beginning at 9 AM. A presentation will begin at 10 AM. Pre-registration by October 11th is suggested. A $10 lunch will be provided.

Please bring family updates (dates of births, marriages, death, etc.). You are also encouraged to bring family pictures and stories to display and share. A group picture will be made before lunch. Be sure to come early to enjoy a time for meeting new cousins as well as visiting with those you already know.

Have you ever wanted to learn more about the lands first settled by your Burris ancestors? In his effort to reconstruct all the original land grants and other purchases making up southwest Stanly County, descendant George Thomas has dedicated much of the past year documenting the places where Solomon Burris and his family once called home. Come hear a brief update on this time consuming project. Also, George seeks contact with anyone who has knowledge or old land records related to the family. You can reach him at or through his blog site at

On Friday evening, Oct. 18th, you are invited to meet at 6 PM to share a meal and fellowship at Jay’s Downtowner Restaurant in Albemarle.

Please mail registration and names of those attending to Zelma Eudy at 1506 W. Main St., Albemarle, NC 28001. For questions call 704-982-4319.




Anyone and everyone who knows me, knows that my favorite place in the world is the NC State Archives. 25 years ago who’d have thunk’n that George Thomas was a history wonk! This place changed my game!

This week I purchased a T-Shirt from my favorite place. A fundraiser sponsored by the Friends of Archives, proceeds support new acquisitions and activities not allowable through normal governmental funding streams. I love my shirt and think I’ll get miles of use out of it. Imagine if you will, visiting some far away courthouse or library, looking for records on family far away, all while wearing your NC State Archives T-Shirt. I promise you that you’ll get that special attention like none other. That’s because you’re from a state upstream in the early migration of settlers. Everyone to the south and west of North Carolina are hungry to meet people and learn more about the place where their ancestors once lived. So, wearing an NC State Archives T-Shirt is surely a turn-on. It’s the best way I know of building that much desired conversation on how we all connect. Take time to make your way to Archives the next time you drop by 600 Jones Street. It’s a cool space filled with memories of your past. Buy a T-Shirt!