Author Archives: geothos


As for some of us, our family story along the Rocky River begins with a 1770’s trip down the Great Wagon Road. It begins there or, for many, it begins with an early arrival into the Chesapeake Bay followed by a much slower spread from eastern Virginia.

For those earliest of days, our understanding is complicated by the scarcity of official oversight, the impacts of unsettled Indian affairs, and the radically evolving jurisdictional laws especially pertaining to land acquisition. In this atmosphere, the race was on and officials at all levels hastily leveraged their meager resources in power plays designed to maximize political influence. Sometimes it all went badly wrong as things got out of hand. For instance, imagine the governor of one state issuing land not in his own state, but in the bounds of a neighboring state? Though you’d rightfully think they can’t do that, the above image shows it indeed happened. And, the case I’m about to share all took place in a budding community upon the waters of our Rocky River.

Situated in present day Cabarrus County, North Carolina, the above 200 acres Jacob Smith entered was located on the waters of Coldwater Creek. As South Carolina did not support local county land offices, requests for land were accepted in Charleston. It’s there where records show that Jacob and others petitioned possibly as a group for land on 8 Oct 1756. Issued out of South Carolina on 4 May 1762, Jacob’s land grant was located nearly 40 miles north of the present day South Carolina border. Jacob’s land was clearly in the bounds of North Carolina.
Jacob Smith was not alone. In late summer of 1756, South Carolina Council Journal minutes show that he and others were among a larger group who petitioned several times to the State of South Carolina in request of the following lands along the Rocky River:

William Leopard -100 acres on Rocky River
Frederick Charles– 100 acres on Buffalo
Charles Hart– 250 acres upon Buffalo (possibly several entries)
John Busard-250 acres upon Buffalo
John Sowder-300 acres upon Buffalo
John Slagen-350 acres upon Buffalo
Peter Crowell-400 acres upon Buffalo
Jacob Smith-200 acres upon Rocky (possibly several entries)
Stuffel Barnhat-350 acres on Rocky River or waters therof
John McKinly-250 acres on a branch of Rocky River
John Carr-Upon a branch of Rocky River

In addition of the one survey plat for Jacob Smith that I’ve posted above, I decided to look a little closer at the lands of Charles Hart. I’m not sure if or not there’s a surviving plat for Charles’ South Carolina land grants. However, on 7 Apr 1756, Charles Hart did in fact enter a grant in Anson County within the State of North Carolina. Note that Cabarrus grew from Mecklenburg which grew from the above Anson County. Issued 7 Apr 1750, the 500 acres of land was located on a “large branch of the Rocky River about eight miles west of the Great Lick.” From my platting projects in this area, I’m quite certain the land was situated upon the Dutch Buffalo Creek. However, of interest in this case is the file number given by the North Carolina Secretary of State office many years ago when they originally organized the grants into shucks. For this grant, the file number given is 0299. On microfilm, file numbers beginning with zero are located at the back of all the other films. Note this is true for all counties. And, the use of zero indicates a grant was entered but was never issued. Keep in mind that the Secretary of State’s office paired up all the entries and final issuances, placing them into shucks with a brief descriptive front label. After completion, there sometimes remained entries with no issuance. It’s like pulling out the family’s box of playing cards, matching them up, and then wondering what to do with the extras left over at the end. As for the land grants, either the final issuance record was lost or the grant was never finalized. In simple terms, the grant never matured. So, in these cases the grant was never officially issued (more on this later as deed records indicate a bit of a twist as to how this all played out).

The above makes sense for Charles Hart as he may have entered land in Anson County that never matured. Why did it not mature? …because Charles was not certain of jurisdictional control and ultimately turned to South Carolina where records there show he received two grants totaling 500 acres.

Beyond this struggle involving the basic mechanics of land acquisition, those earliest settlers along Rocky River faced a much greater threat. Primarily, there was the power struggle between the governors of North and South Carolina. And at center of the controversy was the South Carolina Governor’s dislike for Henry McCulloh who was the land agent for North Carolina’s Governor Arthur Dobbs. The remainder of this post will detail a series of petitions appearing in the minutes of the South Carolina Council Journals which illuminate the hardships faced by the earliest settlers of Rocky River. They seek understanding and legal clarity and their petitions tell of land and of the unfair decisions faced in identifying truth and the rightful way to move forward. All the while these early settlers faced the hardships of the new world and yet were met with a greater threat thrust upon them by their trusted leadership.


Dated 20 May 1755, the Grand Council for the State of South Carolina received and acknowledged a petition of inhabitants of Rocky River. In October of the following year, the petitioners had made application for their family rights. They were then granted warrants of survey which were properly surveyed and returned for issuance. However, the executive officers of North Carolina sent armed men to “free them to be subject to the laws of their Province and to pay their levies as if they were the subjects of that Province. That they were likewise threatened and scared away by Governor Dobbs’ officers with regard to his taking their land from them or obliging them to buy it from him.” The petitioners prayed for his Excellency’s “protection in their seemingly miserable condition and the eyes of many and of all their settlement which was large.”

The petitioners were:

Andrew Logan         Isaac Ross
David Caldwell        Pat’k Gibson
Will’m Crawford     G
eorge Crawford

On 12 August of the same year, another petition of the inhabitants of Rocky River was read before the Council. Having applied for grants from the State of South Carolina, some of the petitioners now lived upon the land “being secured to them agreeable to his Majesty’s Instructions and the Laws of this Province.” “…they were environed on all sides by Heathen Nations by whom some of the first settlers had not only sustained the loss of their goods but of their lives. That they had undergone many difficulties in settling the back parts of this Province such as poor lodging, Scarcity of Broad &C.” “That his Excellency Arthur Dobbs Esq’r, Governor &c of North Carolina, had lately been at most of their dwellings and claimed the lands they live upon as his property and he demanded of them twenty pounds sterling of an extraordinary rent annually for every one hundred acres or he would force them immediately to quit their respective plantations. That the petitioners were poor and unable to comply with such demands and being confident they were within the limits of this Province.”

Dated 24 Jul 1755 and being from Rocky River, South Carolina, the petitioners were:

James Turnbull                                     John Neil
Matthew Yong                                      William Lofton
James Loosh                                          John Wilson
Samuel Patton                                     George Neils mark (x)
John Eakin                                             Adam Alexander
Dennis Leverty                                     Alex’r Whitley
John Carmichael                                  James Belford
James Holland                                      John Queiry
Jos’h Harri’s mark (O)                          John Rodgers
Robert Russell                                      Will’m Penny
Henry Pierson                                       Saml Ferguson’s mark (0)
James Holey                                          James McPherson
Will’m Carmichael’s mark (S)           William Woodside
Andrew Logan                                      David Calwal
Will’m Crawford                                   Patrick Gibson
Isaac Ross                                             William Carr
John Mercer                                          Neal McKelly

“The board having considered the foregoing petition and letter were of opinion that his Excellency should write to Governor Dobbs and acquaint him that it is the opinion and also that of his Majesty’s Council that the petitioners and other inhabitants of Rocky River should continue in the peaceable possession of their respective plantations until such time as his Majesty should give his instructions for running the Boundary line between the two Provinces. “

And yet again, almost a year later, the following petition of 53 inhabitants of Rocky River was brought before the Council. This time the complaint was against Arthur Dobbs, as he had appointed a person to act as an agent on his behalf. Much of the petitioner’s lands (possessed by South Carolina surveys) was “resurveyed by virtue of precepts from the Governor of North Carolina …to their great concern and confusion and threatened to put them out of their houses and lands in a few weeks and in particular those who had obtained his Exc’ys warrant for survey.” The petitioners sought an official South Carolina presence in their neighborhood including a magistrate and captain. Also, “together with his instructions whether or not they should apprehend and bring before his Excellency in Charles Town the following persons viz’t Governor Dobbs’: agent and surveyor.”

Dated 7 Jan 1756, the petitioners were:

Robert Magrin      Alex’r Wiley        Will’m Crawford        Jn’o Person
James Neal
       David Calwell        And’w Logan        John Hawthorn
George Crawford        George Crawford        Pat: Gibson        John Query
John Logan        Sam’l Crawford        James Loosk        Den’s Laverty
Francis Logan        John Wilson        Tho’s Neal Sen’r        Rob’t Trimble
John Adkins        Alex’r Whitley        Thomas Neel Jun’r        James Neel
Robert Wilson        Moses Whitly        And’w Neels mark        Tho’s McCall
Robert McDowell        Andrew Davis        John Neel        James Wyley
John Crawford        Isaac Ross        Will’m Warren        Da: Adams Sen’r
John Rodger        George Craford        William Small        Da: Adams Jun’r
Matthew Young        Sam’l Craford        James Holland        James Adams
Samuel Paton        James Turnbull        Hen: Person
James McFaron        Alex’r McGrew        Geo: Youston        William Adams
N. Killin


In closing I’d like to thank Miles Philbeck who many years ago gave me my copy of the Jacob Smith survey. Also, much of this post is built upon the labors of Brent H. Holcomb and Stewart E. Dunaway. Brent transcribed verbatim the “South Carolina Council Journals” along with other record sources for that state. I advise those interested to look him up. His books on South Carolina are a wonderful resource. Also, my appreciation goes out to Stewart E. Dunaway who collected everything he could find on the life and work of Henry McCulloh. His old style phone book sized book titled “Henry McCulloh and Son Henry Eustace McCulloh” is packed and a must read for those interested in learning more about the Great Tracts of North Carolina. And always, a thanks to those who work the desk at North Carolina State Archives.  Theirs is not a job of doing your work and of finding the missing pieces of your history puzzle, though they do a great job of giving guidance in where and how to locate any available record housed at this wonderful depository of historical records.


canadaDid you know that in early North Carolina divorce was officially granted through petition to and by an act by our state’s General Assembly? The contract of marriage is serious business, but what’s that got to do with Canada? In this post I’ll share two divorce cases with the first being considered by many the most humorous document housed at the North Carolina State Archives. Originating in now Stanly County, I gleaned the second case while tracing a petition related to the sales of land in support of the University of North Carolina. You’ll note that both petitioners blamed their woes in part on Canada. Let’s get to it and look out in the future for a post on the stand of a group of Stanly County citizens taken in connection to the creation of UNC.

During the 1990‘s, Ms. Grace Turner, my friend and mentor, motioned for me to take a look at a document she had at her table. It was a Saturday and we weekend history warriors were armed with pencils, pockets of quarters, and master lists of all we hoped to search. Ready to burst out in tear provoking laughter, Grace was most eager to show me a record she had discovered while methodically exploring boxes of loose Secretary of State papers. Her excitement was over the divorce petition of John Oquin who lived in Wayne County NC. Occurring in Wilmington some eight to ten years prior to 1812, the petition details events as follows:

“…while in company of sundry others who were supposed to spend the evening in a convivial manner ( after having recourse to the inebriating liquors, as an impetus to the actions) repaired to a House in the Town where the occupants were of the female sex, and notorious for their prostitution.

Your petitioner being then in the prime of life, and a disposition rather volatile –he did not hesitate to become one of the company, and expatiated freely on the subject of matrimony; —He did not believe that any scandal would result from such conduct, as a Justice of the Peace was in company with him; -and as his sole object was, – the acquisition of knowledge to enable him the better to discriminate; between women of virtuous and vicious habits.

But a short time had elapsed, before the inebriating liquors proved absolutely predominant; and your petitioner became utterly insensible of the transactions of the night.

In the morning when he awoke, to his inexpressible mortification, there lay by his side a Huge Mass of Creation, purporting to be of the female sex, who called herself Mary Jackson; —whose uncouth appearance indicated that she was formed by nature in a rude and ranting frolic –and whose touch along was amply sufficient to recoil the feelings of the most profligate wretch in society.
[your petitioner] hastily arose from bed, and inquired into her intrusion upon his repose: when he was informed that a Justice of the Peace who was in company in a fit of intoxication had joined them together as man and wife, and at a time when your petitioner was utterly insensible of the whole transaction – upon this information he precipitately retired, with pungent feelings of grief; and Alas!, when too late protested against the proceedings of that fatal night.

This fortuitous occurrence has proved as destructive to the repose of your petitioner, and has excited as much consternation among his friends; as was experience by the Trojans; upon the introduction of the Grecian Horse into Troy.!  Your petitioner further states that he is firmly impressed with the belief that if none of the fair sex, were ornamented with features and forms more enchanting; than this Mary Jackson; procreation would certainly cease, and be forgotten. Your petitioner further states, that the said Mary Jackson has gone off as a prostitute to Canada with the troops of the United States; -and it, as reasonable an expectation, that a camel can go through the eye of a needle; or the leopard can change his skin; as to believe that the said Mary, and your petitioner will ever dwell together –and as other moral and civil institutions require that all contract (if obligatory) should be entered into, with the free and full consent of both parties; He prays the interposition of your Honorable Body in his behalf; and hopes that the marriage aforesaid may be absolutely abrogated by an act of your Honorable Body…”

It’s one thing to read a typed copy of such old records, it’s yet another to hold such in your hand or at least to lay eyes upon it …especially in the quietness of the research room at our archives! To see the words as were written, and to engage the spirit the writer must surely have felt; all our senses are gifted by the experience of this petitioner’s wicked ability to tell a story. None of it can be made more real without actually being with John Oquin during his dreadful time in Wilmington. And now, let’s look at the petition that reached the General Assembly from western North Carolina on behalf of Catherine Dick. Her petition is a little less exciting, though much more revealing of the legacy she left in old Montgomery County. Before moving forward, here’s the petition for your own perusal.

To see in full size, click on the image, look at bottom right for “Full Size” and click there.
Click again on image to magnify.


For the year 1799, several petitions appear in a folder containing sub-committee papers housed within the loose records of the General Assembly. The petitions were signed by citizens who all lived upon Bear and Long Creeks in Montgomery, now Stanly County. The petitions were signed in protest of the reversion of unsold land within the bounds of what’s known as the great tracts. Profit from the sales benefited the newly created University of North Carolina.

Going back a bit earlier, in Jan 1796, a survey of land on Bear Creek was made on behalf of Catherine Dick. Next, in Mar 1797, Catherine paid 20 pounds to Thomas Lowder for what appears to be the same acreage. Two years later, being 1799, Catherine Dick petitioned the General Assembly for relief from her unfortunate marriage to Joseph Dick. Catherine’s 1799 petition is stored alongside the above petitions raised by her neighbors concerning the sale of nearby lands in support of UNC. They were all read by and stored within the same General Assembly sub-committee folder. This fact is no coincidence and tells me that Catherine Dick’s issue was likely brought to justice at the same time and by the same person who handled the petitions concerning land and UNC.

In Catherine Dick’s petition,

“having been so unfortunate to marry Joseph Dick, a peddler from Canada, and by birth a French man, who by foolish trading, brought distress and ruin upon his poor family, so, that everything [has] been taken from us by the constables, and after that my said husband deserted me the first time the 22nd Dec. 1787 and the second time for good and all in April 1790 and since I heard nothing, of him anymore. I took therefore the resolution to begin at a new to acquire a small maintenance for me and my little son John, which I attained by sore work and frugality, but grown old and weak, I need it now very much and live in constant fear, my husband might take from me again what little I have saved;

I beg, therefore most humbly the General Assembly may favour me with the privilege of enjoying the fruits of my labour and secure my small estate to myself free from any and all claims of my dissipating husband …”

Signed by Catherine (x) Dick on 13 Nov 1799, the petition was witnessed by several Dutchman whose handwriting I cannot read (see document). Also signing in agreement with the petition are (in German), Thomas (+) Almond, Tobias Theoppilus Lattor, John Mainor, Elisha (X) Honnicut, Sharod Rowland, Jacob Milder, (in German).  And, here’s a copy of Catherine’s petition and signatures for your perusal:

Unlike the first, this latter petition has consequences I better understand. And, it all happened in the neighborhood of my ancestors. I learned a little more about Catherine though her son John whose family became tightly woven into fabric of today’s southwest Stanly County.

John Dick, the son of Joseph and Catherine Dick, owned land in the area of Bear Creek and Ramsey’s Branch adjoining the Burris family and others. This land owner is surely the same John Dick who married Martha Hathcock, the daughter of Benjamin. Following John Dick’s assumed death ca. 1820, his widow Martha married second the colorful William (Uncle Billy) Whitley who is believed to have lived to the age of 115 years. Both Martha and William Whitley are buried in a family cemetery off of Garmon Mill Road.billy

The children of John Dick and Martha Hathcock are:

1. John Dick – married first Sylvia Springer and then Susannah Hathcock.
2. Sarah Dick –married David Wright Burris upon whose land Pleasant Grove stands and where he is buried..
3. Sophia Dick –married William Burris and assumed  buried alongside her mother.

Looking back in time, I ponder the path taken from France by the elder Catherine’s husband Joseph Dick. Did he move south alone and by himself? Did he have family nearby? There is a John Dick who lived and died in Orange County North Carolina. Items sold at his 1792 estate sale looks like what might be found in a store or on a peddler’s wagon. Could this John be the father of Joseph Dick? This story needs further exploration


Last Friday I visited my favorite place in Raleigh to pull a 1799 petition in support of a post I’d recently seen on the Stanly and Montgomery County, NC Facebook Genealogy page. More on that later. As always, one search opens the door to another and on this particular visit to archives I found seven or so relevant petitions read before the General Assembly … Bonanza!

One of the petitions was absolutely the longest I’d ever seen and from a quick glance, the paper also appeared to be the most bizarre I’d ever read. More on that later, but first there was the unusual weekend that followed.

It rained hard on Saturday followed by a sudden and severe drop in temperature. The skies cleared late in the day on Sunday with temperatures dropping into the teens. That night we planned to join at a friend’s house to watch the much hyped Bloody Wolf Moon, the brilliant rare red moon occurring during totality of a full lunar eclipse. It was awesome, everything we had been told and more. The small group huddled in a front yard and watched in wonderment thinking what it might have been like in days of antiquity.

Back home and then on Monday morning, cold air settled in while I buried my retired self at home digging into that crazy petition. The four page double sided paper quickly opened up with the accusation that “Mr. McFarland feeling at certain times of the moon the effects of the saliva commixed with his blood, at a wound received in an encounter, which he formerly had with a mad wolf within the limits of the said county, cannot distinguish a horse from a mare.” Truth! …that’s what was presented to the General Assembly by a group from Richmond County.

The memorial or deposition of sorts continued that “the same cause is to be attributed many of his eccentric ideas and artifices especially his insane idea of his being a proper person.” It’s at this time the reader begins to realize the petition is really a complaint concerning practices of politics. The mad wolf was really an overzealous politician whose methodology was deemed out of place if not illegal. It’s also possible this was a well-placed hack job on a candidate who had won fair and square.

In this post I’ll step away from any politically leanings maybe hinted at in the document presented. But, realize in 1799, like now, there were real concerns with the manner in which our newly formed government behaved. It’s my belief things have changed only little with similar ideas still empowering present party politics to a whole new maddening level.

Some look at me with glazed over eyes when I tell them I dig genealogy and family history. It’s reading papers like the following that keeps me coming back for more. You can’t make it up. Who’d have thought that I’d have the chance to find such an article a day or so prior to the rare appearance of a big red wolf moon:

To the Hon’ble, the Senate of the State of North Carolina,
in Session in Raleigh

Memorial from the County of Richmond in Senate November 26th, 1799
read & referred to the Committee of Privileges & Election
by order M. Stokes, clk

The Memorial of sundry of the inhabitants of the County of Richmond is most respectfully presented in favor of Mr. James Sanford the present member in senate from the said county, and in order to make known some of the proceedings and designs of a certain Duncan McFarland of the said county, from whose conduct for many years, there appears sufficient reason, to believe that the said McFarland feeling at certain times of the moon, the effects of the saliva commixed with his blood, at a wound received in an encounter, which he formerly had with a mad wolf within the limits of the said county, cannot distinguish a horse from a mare: To the same cause are to be attributed many of his eccentric ideas and artifices, especially his insane idea of his being a proper person to represent the District of Fayetteville in the Federal House of Representatives, for which important and confidential seat he had the impudence to be a candidate, but notwithstanding the extreme eagerness with which he pursued the election in several counties, seldom passing one without calling to solicit his vote, he was treated with the neglect he deserved and fortunately for the District, lost his election. quote

Enraged at his disappointment, he had recourse with redoubled diligence to his former mad project of endeavoring to govern and yoak the good citizens of this county to attain that end, he was almost continually going to and fro, up and down the said the said county seeking whom he might deceive, and in order to carry his said governing and yoaking schemes into effect, he renewed his system of terror, which he had first began in his own neighborhood with a deserter from the British army, by the powerful and of this Worthy armed with his implements of conjurations sieve, shears, and Bible, he, (McFarland) convened at or near Major Carmichael’s in the said county, a considerable number of men and women, chiefly honest well-meaning North Britons many of whom not understanding English and then and there the said McFarland assuming legislative and judiciary powers, formed a new —?— which was administered to most of the said North Britons, each of the said people having one of their own hands on their own heads respectively and their other hand under the sole of one of their own feet, and in that situation were made to swear by “Devoting all to the Devil between their two palms” or in words nearly to that affect, if “they did not answer truly to the questions to be asked them” such as “Did you not take the juice out of McFarland’s corn-stalks in his field?” Did you not bewitch his “butter and take the milk from his churn?”  “Did you not bewitch the said McFarland? Did you not harass him by appearing to him in several frightful forms” and “made his pursuits in the shape of a snake by vanishing in the dirt when he had a stick uplifted to kill you &c” or in words of nearly the same purport the distress of many of these absurd people was extreme for when and accused, there was no escaping, their solemn denial of the absurd charge, on the oath imposed on them did not avail, for the infamous auxiliary having had his due, caused the ever unnerving judges, his terrific sieve, shears and Bible to find the unhappy persons guilty; Such was the tyranny of the said McFarland aided by his said associate, full worthy of himself, who he found so well to answer his purposes in many respects, and more especially to help him to keep most around him in superstitious awe, that he ventured, to begin to punish some of them deemed guilty, and now assuming the executioner, not by proxy as was usual with him but, in person actually assaulted two defenseless women Sibyl McDaniel and her aged mother and with some offensive weapon wounded and drew blood from both above their eyes, with avowed intent of thereby baffling the Devil and forever after preventing the said two helpless women from doing him further harm or mischief by their sources; the said McFarland was, soon after, found guilty on two indictments and fined by the court of the said county for the two said assaults, and after making use of every subterfuge he was made to pay smart money for the same in the district court, to the no small diversion of the Inhabitants of Fayetteville.

-The said McFarland has for four or five years past, employed several months previous to each annual election, in canvassing the said county in a manner so unprecedented, persevering and determined as gives room to believe that he neglects every domestic concern and makes canvassing his sole business, his primary object having it continually in his view as his polar-star to conduct him ultimately, to the end of all his mad politics, namely to his often declared intention of governing and yoaking the citizens of the county but finding it not to answer his present purpose, he denies having had the intention of yoaking the people generally and now threatens to yoak only “such as Governors and Generals.” Your Memorialists do not remember of the said McFarland having yoaked any of the states generals, but they well remember, that reports, not by any means kept secret, have for years been talked of in the said county that the said McFarland was at Hillsborough with and did assist the infamous, cruel and savage British Colonel Fanning in capturing, plundering and carrying off our late Governor Burke to the British Army in South Carolina.

–The said McFarland attends almost constantly at every election when he is a candidate as well while the votes are going in as when called out of the ballot boxes, and usually enters the names of all or many of the electors on different lists, in a little book, by which means he generally knows how they vote and often injures them who do not vote for him either by force or low cunning, this last being his strong-hold makes him to many ignorant poor men truly formidable. Sometimes he assaults openly those who do not vote to please him, others he binds to the peace, then aggravates them until they curse or swear inform against them, by which they are obliged to pay money that they cannot well spare; others he will have before a Magistrate for little or not any cause, and sometimes when his Vietem (Venom ?) he by his control over John Bounds Esq. prevents the papers from being returned to the court of the said county, others the said McFarland will have indicted on various frivolous presets or entangle with suit in the said county court, and he perceives his testimony is not sufficient or from any other cause that he cannot succeed, he then works his warried antagonist with such skill and severity in arbitration that the said McFarland seldom, by one means or other fails of success. Others are worried by written penal agreements, one of these one-sided agreements caused the loss of freedom for a time, to a free young man of colour, who the said McFarland bound to himself by indentures for a term of years, while he had the said young man of color prisoner and was himself conducting the said helpless poor young man to the common goal of the said county by virtue of an execution, believed to have been, obtained for a sum of money forfeited on one of the said McFarland’s one sided penal agreements. Your memorials could enumerate many more of this, would be the congress man’s curious artifices, but they trust the aforementioned will fully serve to show how much he ought to be detested and with what an iron rod the said McFarland’s rules when he has either usurped or legal power, he has indeed carried on his system of terror so long and so perseveringly , that he has tired down many of the most ignorant of the electors to be submissive to his imperious will, that some of those whom he had formerly used all vote for him, and declare to others that “they vote for him because they hope he [will] do at Raleigh and that they would vote for the said McFarland to go to hell.” Some declare they vote for him because “They cannot have peace near him when he loses his elections” and may not this last account for any swearing they voted for him when they did not vote for him or did not vote at all.

–The said McFarland has lately compelled many ignorant electors to meet at several places in the said county by a pretended legal authority, or the voice of real or sham constables, or by both, to swear for whom they voted at the last annual election endeavoring thereby to determine by open and extorted votes , what should be done by ballot. This your Memorialists believe to be unprecedented and directly contrary to the spirit and letter of the Constitution, which clearly established the mode of ballot so friendly to the most useful and most numerous class of citizens. McFarland by this swearing made of election had has brought his long planned system of terror into effect, and notwithstanding the General Assembly long since repealed the act that appointed three different places for the election to be held in to said county and thereby determined that there should be but one place of election and that one at the court house: the said McFarland has continued by his said new mode, to have ten or more to believe that he neglects every domestic concern and make canvassing his sole business, his primary object having it continually in his view different places of election within the county. The said McFarland having gradually and by — undermined the Freedom of many as electors and being blooded by, what he calls, success, now with a coup de main strikes at the liberties of all these who may be his competitors, for of those men who may hereafter be thought worthy of representing the said county in Gen’l Assembly, not many will be found whose fortunes or inclinations will admit them to follow this electioneering McFarland over the whole of the said county again and again prior to any election and again after, ——? —– duly elected, to be dragged over the said county at his will wherever his ambition shall lead him, until the General Assembly shall meet and even then their seat may be contested by a man they must unavoidably despise, over whom conquest cannot be an honour. The said McFarland having thus laid his plans to use superior to all opposition in the said county, or in fact to the election annually whether the electors will or not, without any person to oppose him, has, to appearance, extended his views, in hopes, without doubt of extending his system of terror, talks big and much of his old regulars, and in the extreme height of this deliberate follies has dared to threaten, as Mr. J. T. Sanford can prove, that if he, the said McFarland is not successful at Raleigh a thousand lives shall be lost. Is not this threat in an oblique manner for your Hon’ble House & does it not, in a great measure confirm the opinion of the effect of the life of the mad wolf to have been well founded?

The said McFarland became a candidate for a seat in the senate in 1795 and then there were double and triple votes found in the senate box which to the best of your memorialists remembrance were not heard of before in this county at the last election may also justly be, that McFarland might charge Mr. Sandford’s friends with so doing and thereto enable the said McFarland to triumph by oversetting an election at which he could not be chosen. The character and conduct through life of the sitting member and his opponent McFarland are especially different, Mr. Sanford comporting himself in a modest manner, becoming a man who wishes for the suffrages of his fellow citizens, attends to his production farm, or when in company behaves with respectful difference, not soliciting a single vote, while the other candidate is prowling day and night all over the said county for weeks together, breaking at several musters if not at every one and with the most consummate assurance, asks and presses almost every man he meets to promise to vote for him, to this may be added that it appears by the deposition of Doctor Bishop that the said McFarland has promised to pay the aforementioned John Bound Esq. two hundred dollars for going round the said county with him to swear the electors and has actually paid a mare, saddle and bridle to the said John Bounds in part of the said sum. The Bounds certainly ought to be well paid for he while going their rounds appeared to be dusted to and under the control of the said McFarland.

– Your Hon’rble House cannot be pleased to the said McFarland’s company in senate after hearing the depositions carried forward by Mr. Sanford, nor can there be a doubt for a moment, in the breast of an individual. Senator of the unworthy man at whose instance the double votes and ballots or supernumeracy were put in motion.

—Your memorialists therefore hope that coming up to the spirit of the Honorable, the General Assembly, and therefore ought not to be admitted new evidence, and that your Hon’ble House will permit our senator Mr Sanford to keep his seat. Your memorialist pray, and will think themselves honored, to have their memorial ————(lost two lines of text)————————– before your said committee, which will serve to educate and to prove several parts of this memorial, and your Memorialists will not only forever pray in the usual style, but let your decision on this contested election be as it may. They will, as true citizens, obey the laws and cheerfully endeavor to support them at the hazard of their lives and fortunes.

Ja’s Terry, Walter Leak, Henry W. Harrington, John Wall, Sen., Eli Terry, Micajah Gainey, L Macalister, Wm Robards, Wm. Wall, Sam’l Sprawls, Mathew Dockery, Daniel M. Lauchlen, John Mathias, Moses Knight, John W. Dowel, Benj. Smith, James Pickett, John Clark, Benj-n Long (by concent), Tod Robinson, Solomon Sprawls, Robert Webb, Daniel Sneed, Laurence Everett, Edwine Ingram.


At this fall’s Burris Family reunion held at Pleasant Grove Baptist in the little town of Red Cross, a request for volunteers was made in order to clean-up the Commie Willis Cemetery. The location is east of Stony Run Creek where our earliest known ancestors Solomon and Judith Taylor Burris were once buried. In 1939 over 1000 descendants and friends came together for the celebratory relocation of Solomon’s and Judith’s graves to nearby Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. The move was made out of concern for security and the perptual upkeep of the old cemetery which was no longer owned by family.

The Commie Willis cemetery was left a few graves shy of its original size, but yet it is still hallowed ground. The cemetery remains the final home of other deceased members of our Burris family whose resting place is in need of attention.

Prior to the clean-up, I looked briefly at land records hoping to see more in print about the location we were about to work. I’m certain that the cemetery is located on the following but if not, it’s very very close. From deed book 3, page 20 in Stanly County, in 1850, William H. Randle deeded 226 acres to Kamy R. Willis. The land adjoined Stoney Run to the east, Deberry lands to the north, and Solomon Burris lands to the southeast. The deed included the following clause: “with exception of 26 acres which is reserved for the use of the widow Burris including the house and improvement which she lives during her lifetime.” Wow! Though this may not be Solomon’s original homeplace, I believe the widow Judith Burris lived nearby to be close to her husband. According to this deed, Judith may have lived out her life on 26 acres very close to the cemetery. At a later date I hope to provide a concise report on the location and originations of the Burris lands with emphasis on locating that spot where Solomon first called home. Fingers crossed!

Clean-up Day. This past Saturday, Jan 12, the clean-up day came and it was time to put in a little work. The day was boo-chilly and cloudy with forecasts of rain and sleet breaking out at any point. I had figured to receive an email cancelling the clean-up, but that never happened. That’s because our family is a hearty bunch and there were obligations to meet.

Gathering at the Eudy home on Ridgecrest road, our group of 15 or so were offered rides on the Eudy gator to reach the cemetery which was located near the bottom of an adjoining field. The support was great.

The cemetery was covered in vines of vinca, small shrubs, and numerous understory trees crooked and weak from lack of summer sun. The first task required pruning shear and a chainsaw to clear the grounds of unwanted shrubbery and trees. While this was going on, others sought out and recorded the old readable graves. Some of the stones had been knocked over presumably by wildlife, requiring a little work to upright. The old time technique of dowsing was even brought to task in seeking to locate stones hidden under years of decaying vines. Of this, it was duly noted that a future effort is needed to thoroughly probe the ground to identify stones lost from view.

And, here are a few of the stones in the cemetery. The Burris family seems to have used more symbolism on their stones compared to many in the area. To see much larger, click on “Full Screen” at bottom and then click the image again. The image will magnify. And, here’s a website site to help you understand the many images carved on tombstones.


At the end of the day, Paul Morrison, descendant and manager of the Stanly County Heritage Room, walked with Mark Eudy to a nearby spring (picture below). Lined with slate, I can imagine the old spring, and grandma Judith making her way there to fetch butter cooled by the free flowing waters. But the spring may not have been used as such back then. It may have been different. From a follow-up phone call to land owner Richard Williams, he remembered in the 60’s working with his father Cletus to line the spring head with slate.

Below are additional photos taken by Paul Morrison after everyone left. There are now corner posts to mark the cemetery and the grounds are cleaned, awaiting your pilgrimage to this, our family’s beginning. And to land owner Richard Williams and neighbor Mark Eudy and his father, we thank you sincerely as your caring attention to this little plot of land is near and dear to the heart of our Burris family heritage.


Courtesy Archives of Ontario

We Americans like to ponder our patriotic roots, of being born to that generation of heroes, who, as we’d like to believe, served valiantly during the Revolutionary War. Walking the grounds of old cemeteries we gravitate to the old and important grave stones. I’m talking about those old ones accompanied by bronze shields indicating the interred served in the Revolution. But, our collective family is much broader than what we’d like to believe –they really were a mixed lot. Resting among those old graves are also the bodies of men who never betrayed their homeland. They remained English to the bitter end. And, there are also those of non-English heritage who bought into and gave aid in defense of the King. Beyond the life and death of all this, of soldiers from all sides, cemeteries are filled with generations of descendants whose stories are not complete without the retelling of some ancestral stance taken during the transformative war years.

My last post was about Flat Rock Lutheran Church in present day Stanfield in western Stanly County NC.  Before 1841 Stanly County was part of Montgomery County and prior to 1778 Montgomery was part of Anson. There are but a handful of records remaining of the long forgotten Lutheran church. As luck is sometimes good, these few remaining documents are from the very important first years. Appearing in the 1830’s and 40’s records of Flat Rock Lutheran Church, nearly half of the names on the surviving membership list are marked with plus signs indicating persons who had “move away.” Unique and a nice surprise, these were people who had left the church to move west beyond the lands of old Montgomery County. Where did they go? Yet unclear as to the exact reasoning why, almost all of those who left the little church ended in Pope County Arkansas.

Finding the names Isaac and David Harkey on the old church membership list made my imagination go wild. That’s because of what I know of their grandfather and of the curious devotion they must have reserved for him. Even though their grandfather served among North Carolina’s most known Tories during the Revolutionary War, every such grandchild would surely be both troubled and yet driven to do their best in understanding the life their grandparent lived. For me it’s a lesson not to judge too deeply as I was not there. It really was a family affair and it was they who felt the sting of American justice.

Isaac Harkey married Maria Phillipina Shinn and David married her sister Elizabeth Shinn. Leaving with the others to Arkansas in 1839, we learn more from the sisters’ younger brother Silas Monroe Shinn who also made the trip. He penned a fabulous personal memoir after journeying to the California gold fields during the 1840’s rush. Silas tells of being born in Montgomery County, of his widowed mother’s struggle to maintain the family, and of his own quest in search of the one true religion. Also gleaned from the memoirs, we learn of Silas’ brother Thomas Jefferson Shinn and of his trip to Pope County Arkansas where family from all over met to attend a reunion. On his way back home by train, Thomas J. Shinn suffered from a stroke and died soon after his arrival in Charlotte. He’s buried at the old Tucker Methodist Cemetery not far from Flat Rock Church cemetery near the river crossing at Hagler’s ford.

Like their wives, we know that Isaac and David Harkey also had interesting roots in Montgomery County. It’s believed that Isaac and David are sons of George Harkey who once lived in Montgomery County. Not far from Flat Rock Church, being just northwest of the present day town of Locust, in 1802  their father George Harkey received a land grant and deeded land adjoining the properties of nearby Reed gold mine:

Lands of George Martin Harkey

Tract A: Grant #196, Cabarrus NC, issued 5 Dec 1800 to John Reed being a combined three entries making up 330 acres surrounding Grant # 3325, Mecklenburg NC (in red) issued 2 Nov 1784 to Frederick Ciser, being 30 “in the forks of the first Meadow Creek where Killone Wagon Road crosses it in tract no. 5.”

Tract B: Grant # 401, Cabarrus NC, issued 6 Dec 1809 to John Reed, being 88 acres on the waters of Meadow Creek joining George Harkey and John Tucker land. Chainbearers: George Harkey, John Barba.

Tract C: Grant # 307, Cabarrus NC, issued 26 Jul 1804 to George Harkey joining Thomas Berry, Thomas Maynor, John Reed and his own lands. Chainbearers: Leonard Cagle, Daniel Perry.

GRAY CROSSHATCHED AREA Deed 14-41, Cabarrus NC, 13 Nov 1815. Jno. McLellon, High Sheriff to Lewis Tucker. Being 115 acres sold by virtue of an execution issuing from Cabarrus County against Silas B. Shinn for a debt of $2.25 which sum was collected by James Love.

Deed 12-360, Cabarrus NC, 13 Mar 1812, prv’d Oct 1831. Silas B. Shinn to David Karr of Mecklenburg. Situated on Meadow Creek and adjoining Paul Furer, Dan’l Boger, and Henry Wilhelm.

On 1 Jul 1821 and probated Oct 1828, George Harkey wrote  his last will and testament witnessed by John Barba. This is a copy from the typed Will Book A housed at NC State Archives:

George Harkey does not name his children but does name Mary, his wife. Showing that Mary too made the trip west, she appears in the 1850 Pope County Arkansas census as living in the home of her apparently single son named John. With them are John’s two unmarried sisters Elizabeth and Catherine:

Looking beyond George Harkey, this post begins in earnest with the life of his father David Harkey. This would be the grandfather of Isaac and David who left the congregation of Flat Rock Lutheran Church for Arkansas. As is well documented online, we know that the elder David Harkey joined and was loyal to the British forces. He followed them all the way to their defeat at Yorktown and even moved beyond to live a new life in Nova Scotia.

Seeking to lay my hands on the records from which such story is based; I visited North Carolina State Archives where I was shown the collection from the English and British Records Office that was officially hand-copied in London ca. 1902. What I’m about to show is not the original, but is my copy of a 1902 hand written official copy of the originals.

Outlining his services and losses as an American Loyalist, the claim by David Harkey is comprised of four pages. Written during late winter of 1786, David Harkey’s memorial states that he lately lived in New Montgomery in the State of North Carolina. I like that. For him, the county was new as it had been recently formed during the Revolutionary war period. Today, to me and many others, it’s old Montgomery County.

David Harkey joined the British Army in 1780 under the command of Lord Cornwallis and raised a company in the Commissaries department for which he received a commission. He was in actual service until being taken prisoner at Yorktown in Virginia. The memorial was completed and signed with his mark “David (x) Harkey” at the City of St. John, Nova Scotia on 9 Mar 1786.
Losses sustained by David Harkey “during the late unhappy dissentions in North America” are outlined on the next page. Totaling £1133, the accounting included reparation for services, livestock, wearing apparel, riding gear, and eight acres of Indian corn.

Completed on 17 Feb 1787 at St. John, Nova Scotia, David Harkey provided evidence of his claims. He stated that he arrived in Nova Scotia on the second fleet and went up the river before the winter. He came back down, never hearing a word, until he heard of Captain Vanderburgh. From there, David repeats his statement from the memorial adding that “he raised a company of Militia in the backwoods.” “His men were defeated, he made his escape himself and joined the British in Campbeltown [Fayetteville].” He stayed with Lord Cornwallis until taken prisoner. He had 25 men under him and was 19 months a prisoner at Yorktown. He now lived in Grand Bay. David Harkey produced a letter from George Stedman to show he was in the Commissary department. “He had 300 acres bought of George Crowell in 1779 for £60 and house, -his wife and children were driven off and land sold.”  <<<<< that’s a huge clue!

Continuing onto the last page of his claim, David Harkey states that all were left behind when he joined the British. David Harkey produced a certificate from David Fanning received on 7 Feb 1787 at St. John, Nova Scotia. Fanning stated that he knew of David Harkey and believed him to be a Tory. David Fanning, North Carolina’s most well-known Tory, led many skirmishes throughout the piedmont of North Carolina. Also included, Henry Underwood claims to have known David Harkey while David served in the Commissary department. Henry “heard he [David] had been raising militia before he came to Lord Cornwallis, heard he had lived very well and had a pretty plantation.” 

So, exactly what is a Commissary Department and what kind of service did David Harkey provide? An explanation of this can be found in the following two page status report outlining the commission or payment to which David was entitled and had yet to receive. Apparently David Harkey was paid to “collect cattle and sheep for the use of his Majesty’s army for which service he was to be paid 4/8 sterling a head for cattle and 2/11 for sheep – that he and those under his command drove to the army at different times two thousand and four good cattle and six hundred and seven sheep – which at the rate aforesaid amounted to £556-2-5.” “That the accounts of cattle so drove were kept in Mr. Stedman’s books who secreted himself from fear of ill-usage from the enemy upon the taking of Yorktown which was the reason why Harkey never received a certificate of the number of such cattle and sheep –but instead of it got the account marked “A” taken from Mr. Steadman’s books by Benjamin Booth another commissary to the Army –that he was taken prisoner and deprived of the warrant above mentioned and other papers –and that he only recovered the same papers marked “A”. Andrew Horne and Thomas Hale swear that they were employed under Harkey and that the said account “A”, to the best of their knowledge and belief is just fine and exact.”

2004 cattle and 607 sheep? The above makes me wonder to what degree livestock was commandeered versus being purchased? To some degree I suspect livestock was simply taken from the unknowing and from those openly against the King. But seems such actions would also not advance the favor of those sympathetic to the British cause. I imagine Mr. Stedman’s stance was well founded and can imagine the dislike for him, …and David Harkey, lived on after the war’s end.

The minutes as shown relating to David Harkey’s claim include a final determination which was made on 21 Feb 1787. It reads simply as follows: “The claimant is a Loyalist & bore arms in support of the British Government.” From this it appears David’s service was validated and that his claims were acknowledged.

What happened next and what did David Harkey do with his new life in Nova Scotia?  We know that David Fanning, who provided certification in support of David Harkey’s service held political office in St. John but was really detested by the local establishment. At one point Fanning was  charged with rape for which crime he was exonerated. David Fanning moved across the Bay of Fundy to the little town of Digby where he lived out his life operating a small fleet of ships. Interestingly, the next town up the coast from Digby is named Cornwallis.  And, today, David Fanning’s North Carolina blood stained bayonet scabbard is on display in the local museum. Did David Harkey leave such a legacy?

As has been widely researched, other websites tell of David Harkey receiving a grant for 200 acres in the county of Sunbury, Nova Scotia. They go on to say that the land was subdivided among 22 other loyalists. Making it less than 10 acres each, I’d have to believe this is in error as that would only provide ten acres per claimant. Another site  states that “on August 11, 1784, he [David Harkey] and 26 other Loyalists were granted 4,400 acres by the British Crown, said tract was situated on the northern shore of the Bay of Fundy between Musquash Cove and the mouth of St. John River.” David Harkey received lot #19 consisting of 200 acres. There were 22 lots of 200 acres each. If the latter scenario is correct, then David Harkey’s land was situated somewhere between Musquash Cove and the Mouth of St. John’s River as pinpointed on the map below. However, at that time the history as it’s told online reaches a dead end. There is nothing else published on whether or not David Harkey stayed put on his land. Did he die, freeze? Was he enveloped by the great tides of Fundy? The story pretty much ends there.

Looking back at David Harkey’s Loyalist claim, there’s two points that need to be mentioned before I close. Arising from David’s claim that “he had 300 acres bought of George Crowell in 1779 for £60 and house, -his wife and children were driven off and land sold,” is there any evidence that the believed George Harkey (and others?) is/are the offspring of David Harkey? I have not found the proof if there is. Circumstantially, George Harkey is of the right age, at the right place, and right time. And, as for David’s land bought of George Crowell, do we know where it was located? Where had David called home in his New Montgomery? Somewhere not too far from Reed mine I believe David was forced to give up his land. He left behind his wife and family to join the British army. As a result, his family was driven off the land, having to start anew.

This past week I visited NC State Archives and looked through the confiscated Loyalists’ lands recovered and sold in Anson, Montgomery, and even Rowan County. I found nothing. Unfinished business, I hope my future effort in platting lands in Montgomery County will yield some deeper clue as to how we might find David Harkey’s North Carolina homeplace.  If George is his son, which he likely is, then David’s land should have been situated somewhere nearby. Where was George Crowell’s land and where did he live? Somewhere there’s a record of 300 acres that was later taken up by somebody new. There’s still lots to ponder and that’ll hopefully be the basis of a revealing story told some day in he future.



It bothers me when but a few are aware of something really cool and potentially important -something that I believe everyone should know about. 

This post honors of a group of descendants and local historians whose efforts in the 1950’s shed new light on a place of worship known as Flat Rock. I’d like to convey my appreciation to the folks in Stanly County for their sincere preservation efforts both on the ground and by virtue of securing documents and records from yesteryear. 


It’s such a common route which locals pass by routinely as if a church were never there. Many unknowingly drive by the historic church site situated on the right side of the road as you enter the little town of Stanfield. But to those of us with certain Lutheran heritage, the spot remains hallowed ground and is to be protected and treasured. We know well of Flat Rock and of the graveyard silently telling its story in remembrance of the once vibrant Lutheran congregation.

flat rock deedAt this spot on today’s highway 200, an 1835 deed and survey from Mathias Furror [Furr] calls out the road as both the Big Road and “the Great Road.” Old maps show this ancient route splitting off of the Great Dutch Wagon Road north of the location where present day Highway 601 crosses Rocky River. Traversing east along the northern bank of the Rocky River, the Great Road branched off again at Hagler’s ford [Mount Pleasant Road] on what early land grants refer to as the old Charleston Road. Bending south around Rocky River at the mouth of Dutch Buffalo Creek before crossing into now Stanly County, the Great Road passed by the east bank of Rocky River as it headed towards the present day town of Stanfield. Note that this was referred to as the Great Road but there were surely other such roads of this name.

Looking back at the church deed, Mathias conveyed seven acres to Peter Pless, Ransom Shinn, and David Harkey, “Elders of the Flat Rock Church for the Lutheran Body, Tennessee Synod.” Situated on the waters of Rockhole Creek, the church lot was located within Mathias Furr’s land “including the church house as is now built.” As is now built? Use of such language indicates the church was intact prior to the 1835 deed. It also makes me wonder if the statement is indicative of a plan to build the church anew. When was Flat Rock church originally built and what do we know about its early history?

I recently visited the Stanly County Historical Center in search of the answer to those two questions. Years prior I made the same trip and remember having seen copies of old church minutes from Flat Rock. I now intended to look deeper in hopes of organizing the information for better online consumption.

Among the church files at the Historic Center is an official copy of the original Flat Rock church deed that was recorded many years after the transaction took place. You can find the deed online in Book 53, Page 276 online at the Stanly County Register of Deeds. Occurring in 1835, this transaction was not recorded until 1919. The deed was recorded by Rev. W. J. Boger, who was chairman of a committee appointed by the N. C. Conference of the Tennessee Synod to investigate the said property. Related to the eventual deeding, and providing a thorough record of the title history, the following survey and title history was copied in 1980 by George Franklin Hahn from the archives at the North Carolina Lutheran Church House at Salisbury.

In late summer of 1955, a group of descendant families and historians gathered at the site of Flat Rock Lutheran Church. Per a newspaper article dated 10 Sep 1955, Mrs. G. D. B. Reynolds, who was then president of the Stanly County Historical Society, spoke at the event about historical data that had been collected to date. Judge O. O. Efird from Winston-Salem spoke about the Efird family who were among the church’s founders. Others also presented and a committee was formed in hopes of obtaining a historical marker. At some point I plan to visit North Carolina State Archives to pull the original marker request. Within the church file housed in Stanly County is the following copy of the article as well as what I believe to be Mrs. Reynold’s personal handwritten speaking notes. It’s from that source where I learned that Flat Rock Lutheran may have a history reaching further back than most may realize.

It’s not often that you get to browse the thoughts intended for a presentation that took place over sixty years ago. But housed in the Stanly County Historical Center is a copy of Mrs. Reynolds rough notes for the speech she gave. Most is legible while bits of the information have been lost in the original process of photocopying. Here’s my best effort at transcribing Mrs. Reynold’s speech from 1955:

Just when the first worshiping service was held at Flat Rock is not known at the present time. Descendants of some of the early members have said that Flat Rock was the first church in what is now Stanly County, but this statement must be proven to show what it was older than Saint Martin’s.
Another “hunch” in the manner of researching should be followed thorough – as to whether the church was functioning under the name of St. Peter’s before division of the North Carolina Synod, and it became a part of the Tennessee Synod. At this period of adjustment caused there to have come a lack of regular service by a pastor and when reorganized, took the name Flat Rock.
The following is taken from the diary of Rev. Nehemiah Bonham, an itinerant Lutheran minister:
Saturday 27 (1828) – I rested at Jacob Iferts (Efirds)
Sunday 28 – I preached in St. Peter’s church to a very attentive & respectful congregation.
Monday 29 – Left and got to George Hartsell’s for the night.
Tuesday 30 – went on my way to Concord
Where was this St. Peter’s church? The horse and buggy distance from Jacob Efird’s to this church must have been about ten miles. George Hartsell’s in Cabarrus, a day’s drive.
(missing text)
The above is from the printed minutes now in possession of Mrs. Eli Hopkins.
In 1835 Mathias Furr makes a deed to Peter Pless, Ransom Shinn and David Harkey, elders of the Flat Rock church for the Lutheran Body, Tennessee Synod, – and their successors in office for the use of the Flat Rock congregation and their elders or trustees forever –all that tract or parcel of of land —in the bounds of Mathias Furr’s land including the church house as is now built. The amount of land was seven acres.
At present time 1955 – the only known minutes of Flat Rock Church belong to Mrs Bill Tucker of Oakboro. These handwritten records say: Montgomery County 28th of March 1834 Flat Rock Church organized on the 29th by Rev. Adam Miller Junior, Peter Pless, Ransom Shinn, and David Harkey, Elders.
Members confirmed on the 29th -20
Members confirmed on the 30th -confirmed 46.
Other elders mentioned in these minutes were Drewery Morgan, Daniel Reap, Thomas Shinn, Nelson Smith, J. A. Huneycutt and W. M. Smith. The ministers named were Adam Miller Jr., Rev. Adam Efird, Rev. J. R. Peterson, Rev. Daniel Efird, Rev. D. C. Henkel, and Rev. J. Moser. Among the family names were Pless, Shinn, Harkey, Tucker, Hartsell Hunneycutt, Sossamon, Furr, Morgan, Smith, Long, Yow, Reap, Rosencrantz, Craver, Dry, Murray, Effird, Hathcock, Coble, Barbee, Springer, Eudy, Klutts, Crayton, Carriker, Long and Lowder. The above were among the builders of Flat Rock Church and the little log school house beside the church. These are people we honor today, their descendants are today members of all the Stanly County churches and have helped make Stanly the progressive county of the present. A fitting epitaph for the old church could read: “Gone but not Forgotten.”

Accompanying the speech and other papers is a typed transcription of the relevant portion “from the report of the Evangelican Tennessee Synod their fourteenth Session held at St. John’s church, Lincoln Co. from Monday 9th to Thursday 18th, September 1833.” The document establishes congregational support for the early efforts of Rev. A. Miller. Also included in the file are photo copies of what is likely the original founding minutes from Flat Rock Lutheran church. First, below is the church session report from Lincoln County. The minutes of Flat Rock follow.



Those of you from Union County in North Carolina have all heard that the county’s first court met at a place called Labatt’s Crossroads. As the story goes, there was an Abraham P. Labatt who “lived out at the Houston or Tindle place. It was from him that the cross roads there take the name of Labatt’s Crossroads.” Short story, huh? There’s got to be more to it and during a recent visit to the Heritage Room in Monroe the helpful folks fired me up to learn the rest of this story.

It was there where one of the volunteers told me a little more about Labatt’s Crossroads and that it was once situated a mile or so to the west of the present day court house …maybe somewhere near the Concord Road. Before that I had no idea where the crossroads were located. And as for this post, I’m less concerned with location than how it all came to be. So, let’s get started.

Abraham Cohen Labatt is Jewish, being the son of Samuel and Miriam Labatt. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, it was there where Abraham married 18 Feb 1825 Miss Caroline Hyams, the daughter of Samuel Myers Hyams and wife Miriam Levey Hyams. Caroline’s mother Miriam died 4 years prior to Caroline’s marriage and is buried at the Hanover Street Cemetery in downtown Charleston. I’m not certain if the grave survives.

At some point shortly after the marriage, Abraham, his wife Caroline, and much of her family removed to present day Union County. Dated stories from area newspapers paint the picture that Abraham may have been among a group of peddlers who had moved inland from Charleston. I believe this idea falls way short in illustrating Abraham Labatt’s potential as well as his achievements. He was a great man.

Beginning in 1827, Abraham Cohen Labatt made several sizeable purchases in what was then Mecklenburg County. The deeds are:

• Deed 21-399, Mecklenburg NC, 8 May 1827. Jacob Rape to Abraham C. Labatt. Being 390 acres on the waters of Richardson Creek on the Big Branch joining the lands of Capt. Solomon Harris and Alexander Osborne. Wit: William Osborne, Edw., Richardson.

• Deed 21-468, Mecklenburg NC, 2 Oct 1827. Jordan Brown to Abraham C. Labatt, being 130 acres at the mouth of Buck Branch on the waters of Richardson Creek and joining the lands of Thomas P. Dillon. Wit: Thos. P. Dillon, Russell Rogers.

Indicating that he too moved from Charleston, or at least bought into the journey west, Caroline’s father Samuel Hyams made out the following appointments for power of attorney:

• Deed 22-84, Mecklenburg NC, 30 Oct 1830. Samuel Hyams of Charleston SC to Abraham C. Labatt, being “all that land of mine and one building thereon in Mecklenburg County NC crossroads known by the name of Jacksonville now in the occupation of A. C. Labatt. Also included were named slaves Sandy and Gabriel along with the large still and worm and household goods etc. Wit: Joseph B. Marks. Note that Caroline Hyams’ sister Eliza married Joseph Bensaken Marks. This transaction was registered in both North Carolina and South Carolina.

• Deed 22-322, Mecklenburg NC, 4 Jul 1832. Samuel Hyams of Charleston SC appoints Abram C. Labatt power of attorney in order to sell the above lands.

Wow, from the above, we now know the “crossroads” were in place as early as 1830 and their crossing was then known as Jacksonville. Would this be in honor of Andrew Jackson? Note that Samuel Myers Hyams named a son Andrew Jackson Hyams who was born in 1818. From Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Louisiana (1892) appears the following biography of Abraham Labatt’s son, David Cohen Labatt:

David Cohen Labatt was born in Mecklenburg, N. C. August 15, 1826. His father Abraham C. Labatt, a native of South Carolina, was one of the founders and first settlers of Cheraw, S. C., from whence he removed to Jacksonville, N. C. The name of the little town was given by Abraham Labatt, who was appointed post master at that place by President Andrew Jackson. He married Caroline, the daughter of Samuel Hyams of Charleston, S. C., and a sister of Lieutenant-Governor Hyams of Louisiana.

We now know the naming source for what was once the town of Jacksonville. And connected the old Labatt’s crossroads to deeds, exactly where did they lead and where did they come from? No deed showing how Samuel Hyams acquired the land can be found in Mecklenburg. I wonder from whom he purchased it?

On 13 Aug 1831, Abraham C. Labatt as agent for Samuel Hyams of Charleston sold the above lands to John Conner of Charleston SC (Deed 22-187, Mecklenburg NC). And, by this time Abraham had sold his own land situated on Buck Branch of Richardson Creek to Thomas P. Dillon of Anson County (Deed 21-502, Mecklenburg NC). So, at this point, where do we go? What happened to Abraham and his wife Caroline? Is there any more information to glean on what was once the Jacksonville crossroads?

Dated 3 Nov 1829, A. C. Labatt placed the following advertisement in the Western Carolinian. To me it’s perfect! Apparently Abraham built a very nice “House of Accommodation” located on what I know must be the old Charleston Highway. Following present day Hwy 601 north into Cabarrus County, it turns a bit taking Mt. Pleasant Road to the crossing of Rocky River at Hagler’s ford. Along the way, in early Mecklenburg County grants and deeds, there are several locations this road traveled where it was identified as being the “Charleston Road.” And, upon crossing the river towards Concord, the road became known as the “Dutch Road” and earlier the “Indian Path.” And, in the advertisement, the other roads are identified as the Rocky River Road and Wadesboro roads. One of these might be the present day Hwy 200 or 601. The other would have been the road running possibly from Charlotte to Wadesboro.  Abraham Labatt also mentions the gold country as well as Virginia Springs. That’s a new one for me!

At this point the story of Abraham Labatt in North Carolina should come to a close as he and his wife moved to New Orleans, Louisiana in the 1830’s. Also moving with them were members of the Hyams family including Caroline’s father Samuel. Some 5-10 years after the move it was decided to create a new county from the eastern portion of Mecklenburg and the western portion of Anson. I imagine Abraham Labatt’s House of Accommodation served well as the initial court house. And looking into period newspapers, many political meetings also met at the location. I’ve yet to research this further, but wonder if there are other deeds which detail the architectural history of Labatt’s crossroads.

The life of Abraham Labatt was much more adventurous than the memories he left in our fair state. He did so many things and did them well. He was among the founders of the Jewish Synagogue in Louisiana. A fire fighter, he also helped in founding the firefighter’s benevolence fund in Louisiana. From the Texas Handbook Online, one of the first to enter the Houston shipping harbor, he was a ship master on board the Columbia which was the first steam ship to trade between Charleston and Texas. He was one of the first in founding masonic orders in both Texas and California. Following the 1849 gold rush, Abraham went to California where he was among the founders of the San Francisco Synagogue. He returned to Texas where his wife Caroline Hyams is laid to rest in Waco. Abraham Cohen Labatt lived until 1899 and is buried in Galveston.