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!




City Limits

Elijah Spencer could not have been fully aware of the impact his crime would have on future generations. In 1843 he set fire to the Montgomery County Court House. As for land records, only a few dozen charred pages pulled from several deed books survive. And out of the loss are but a hand full of surviving records from which the founding of Stanly County has been built. Stanly was formed from Montgomery in 1842.

stanfield garmonI find it remarkable that the survival of at least one such old conveyance, has withstood the testament of time as is evidenced by what can be found on modern maps. Take a look at the image to the right and you’ll see the tract in question in red. Note that I drew the tract on the map and it’s not placed where it is actually located. If shifted to the right the red tract mates up with the Google image showing the town of Stanfield.

You see, towns set their perimeter limits based on what the community leaders believe to be the largest area tolerated by the citizens. There’s a lot of political push and pull and it’s a matter of how much the town officials can rightfully get away with. As the town boundaries push outward they meet up with the lands of prominent land owners who are important enough to push back on the advancement of the town upon their personal lands. It’s in that manner that town limits are usually irregular in shape, often modelling the metes and bounds of large surrounding farms.

There are clues hidden among the battles over control of land. The above red shaded tract represents an 1838 conveyance from Michael and wife Sally M. Garmon to John Little. Situated on Rockhole Creek the land adjoins that of Moses Osborne (to the south). Also, to the north this tract adjoins the lands of Jonah and his wife Mary Garmon Love. As Mary is the daughter of Michael and Sally Garmon, this is pretty cool in that it shows the elder Garmon’s once lived next door to their daughter and her husband.

My point?  Even within the lines of the city limits there may be clues as to your genealogical past!


Dirt Roads
In southwest Stanly County Nance Road runs west (outlined in pink below) before dead ending on Pine Bluff Road. Letting your eyes gaze further west, a black double dashed line indicates the continuance of a dirt road before coming to an end after bending south near the banks of Rocky River. Most folk have no clue as to the story this old dirt road tells. It actually outlines one of the boundaries of the land once belonging to Conrad Reed. Conrad is the little boy whose find in Little Meadow Creek initiated the first gold rush in America. He married Martha Love, his next door neighbor.

In August of 1833, Thomas Jefferson Shinn purchased from Stephen Kirk 1,999 acres (Deed 4-2 Stanly NC). A break-up parcel of Arthur Dobbs’ old Great Tract #2, this land deeded to Shinn is identified as lying on Reedy Branch. A very large piece of land, the tract runs the county line from Love’s Grove to near present day Hwy 24/27. Within the bounds of this tract, and dated 27 May 1828, the above mentioned Conrad Reed purchased 305 acres from Frederick Kiser (Deed 12-85, Cabarrus NC). The metes and bounds are as follows:

(Shaded Yellow Below) Beginning at a hickory, a corner of Catherine Reeds then north 65 east 118 poles to a white oak her corner, then north 16 east 36 poles to black oak her corner and David Kiser’s, then the division line south 71 east 308 poles to a pine n the out line the out corner, then Cheek’s line south 57 west 59 poles to a post oak sd/ Cheek’s corner, then south 50 west 42 poles to a black oak, then north 75 west 152 poles to a post oak, then north 86 west 19 poles to a stake in the branch called Reedy, then the meanders of the branch 174 poles to the river, then up the river to the beginning. Wit: John Barnhart, George Reed.

When drawn, scaled, and overlaid to the topographic map, the tract and its relation to the old dirt road becomes clear. Not only does the road enable us to accurately locate Conrad Reed’s land, it adds to the story of one of Stanly County’s most unique residents.

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

Note that in my last post I mentioned the lands of Henry Love. Dated 21 Dec 1881, Henry Reed sold the green shaded tract to Henry Love (Deed 17-161 Stanly). Note that Henry Reed is the son of Conrad’s brother George Reed. George married Elizabeth Freeman, the daughter of Claiborne and Patience Love Freeman. Patience is the sister of Conrad Reed’s wife Matha. But who was Henry Love in the above transaction? Henry Love was a free man of color, once lived in Richmond County, and is believed to be one of the founders of Brown’s Hill AME church. More on Henry can be found at Job’s Children. Somehow it seems there must be a connection to my Love family though at this point that link eludes me.

So, in working land records, it’s vitally important to consider modern roads as well as old country dirt roads. Many are remnants of the old paths we know from early maps. Many run the way they do based on the lands and property lines they once passed by.


Red Dashed Lines

A while back I put together six or so land grants connecting much of the Honeycutt family of Stanly County. Like sticks of firewood stacked upon each other, the nested tracts took on the shape as shown below. It’s a cool shape showing a tight knit family organization…but how do I begin to locate it?

honeycutt main

In the 1960’s the USGS began using aircraft to map lands. I guess you could use one plane focusing straight down as it flew. But, there’s a problem with that thinking. Looking at the two images below, the on the left was created using one eye or flight path over a targeted power line. Note the line is not straight as should be. It is deflected by the angle from which the plane sees the line along with both the slope of the hills and creek valleys. The image on the right was created using two opposing flight paths flying parallel to each other. When merged the two separate images negate any deviation. For more on this subject read this article on Rectification by Stereography found on the Penn State Geology Department website.


The deformation of the powerline clearing shown in the air photo is caused by relief displacement.
Credit: USGS. “Harrisburg East Quadrangle, Pennsylvania”

So, how do I put this technological application to work in locating the Honeycutt lands? Note that on topographic maps made in the 1960’s you’ll often see red dashed lines here and there on the paper quadrant maps. What are they about? The map makers used these red dashed lines to visually identify long straight lines of trees, cliffs, fields, fences …etc. Such lines offered opportunities to validate accuracy while aligning the maps. A little known gift to those like me who delve into understanding local land records, these dashed lines often echo old metes and property bounds. Just as dirt roads may provide hints as to old property lines, the red dashed lines are often based on field or tree lines following the original courses  of early land grants. As for the Honeycutt lands, the above group of tracts is actually findable with only the information provided on the topographic image below. That’s amazing! Can you pick out any of the individual land grant tracts? Note the red arrows point to the red dashed lines. Compare the image below to the one that follows showing Honeycutt land grants plotted and placed.

Frog Pond, NC, 1:24,000 quad, 1981, USGS


Frog Pond, NC, 1:24,000 quad, 1981, USGS

You’ll notice in the above that the bottom quarter of the topographic map image looks a bit different. The image is actually made of two quadrants that I merged together with the northern section being the Locust map and the bottom being the Stanfield quadrant. Note that the Stanfield map doesn’t have any red dashed lines as it’s a 1987 revised map deplete of the old technology dependent upon the red dashed line. Every technological improvement is marked with both gains and losses.

City limits, dirt roads, and red dashed lines are but a few ways maps can be put to work in unravelling the mysteries of land history. The first and most important skill to learn is that of land platting. Once mastered your ideas of when and where can be physically transported to various modes of visual display. As much as any other aspect of family history, the study of maps has opened doors I never knew possible!


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle – 21 Sep 1860

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

perlee h. webster

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

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

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

jno s turner.jpg

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


My mother grew up in Stanfield where her family attended Love’s Chapel United Methodist Church. She tells of times in the early 1930’s when her parents carried the family to hear services at Brown Hill AME in the nearby town of Locust. Mom has always spoken well of the visit and remembers her parents being moved by the lively choir. They were drawn to the church by both the message and a powerful messenger.
My family’s experience was nothing new. Written in an endearing dialect of the old south, a regularly occurring social column praises an earlier service held at the church:

The Concord Times, 17 Oct 1895

…Well, I like to forgot the colored folks had a glorious jubilee at their church at Brown Hill over a little way in Stanly last Saturday and Sunday – Children’s days on Saturday. The cornet band from Pioneer Mills country (Cabarrus) was there, and it being a new thing in that country, why the white people of that vicinity gave them a rousing, cheerful presence. Some have told me they outnumbered the colored folks, and the good colored folks gave them the middle tier of seats in the church, and the band played and the children sang, and then lastly the 10 cent lunchins were served, and lots of money was realized, the band paid off, and some left, and old Aunt Rose says the white folks had the most money and shelled it out too. So everything passed off quietly, friendly, affectionately with tender love and felicity …

It’s now 2019 and the town of Locust is planning its 150th anniversary. Little do they know of the real beginning of Brown Hill. It is commonly believed that Brown Hill AME Church first held services in 1870 about the time Locust was founded. From the church’s online history:

The Brown Hill A.M.E. Zion Church was organized in 1870, where the records indicate that Henry and Sarah Love obtained a special parcel of land. The parcel was mostly farmland, which was worked by surrounding farmers usually six days out of the week. Apparently, the subject about a place to worship was mentioned on numerous occasions. The founders probably chose this place to start gathering in 1870, which was the birth of Brown Hill.

…the first Brown Hill Church was constructed in 1874 when a group of African American Christians held a meeting and decided on a permanent place of worship.

Dated 27 Oct 1874, Wilson M. Carter of Mecklenburg conveyed 8 acres (Deed 11-459, Stanly) for a price of $50. The land was purchased collectively by Michael Barnhardt, Wesley Morgan, Adam Morgan, Henry Love, and Solomon Reed. L. A. Carter and John M. Carter served as witnesses. The purchase known as the “Brown Hill Church property” adjoined “the road” and a tract of land owned by Michael Garmon. Not spelled out in the transaction and differing from the official deed, the church’s history indicates the purchase was for “nine and one-fourth acres of land, and an old church building, which is believed to have been a Bush Arbor for $40.00.”

It’s at this point where my findings begin to diverge from those held by the church. I believe the richly African American Brown Hill AME church had its beginnings first as a Methodist Protestant Church. Serving a predominantly white congregation at that time, the Methodist Protestant church predates Brown Hill AME. Before delving into that story a little local church background is in order.

Circa 1830, the Methodist Protestant church was formed in the United States as an offshoot of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Unlike the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Protestants adopted greater self-control in terms of congregational governance. No longer under the control of bishops, the new order continued to hold Wesleyan doctrine and worship though it withdrew from the long held tradition of episcopacy. The division within the Methodist Church eventually healed from whence today’s United Methodist Church was formed.

Locally, in the early 1840’s, Love’s Chapel Methodist Episcopal was the first of its denomination to locate in southwest Stanly County. It wasn’t until the early 1860’s that Love’s Grove Methodist Protestant Church was founded nearby.

articleSeeking further information I came across two important newspaper accounts that I believe radically changes the local church histories. Firstly, and dated 22 Mar 1922, the First Protestant Methodist Church in Charlotte announced its ninth anniversary celebration. Beautiful music was to be played, there were guest speakers, and new art glass windows were “to be unveiled and dedicated to the memory of men who have rendered valuable service to the Methodist Protestant church in this community.” Among those to be honored were “Rev. Henry Garmon and his brother, Michael Garmon, who were among the first in this community to become Methodist Protestants.”

According to Western NC Methodist Conference archivist Jim Pyatt, “First Methodist Protestant Church was organized in 1913 (the NE corner of Central Avenue and Hawthorne Lane), changed its name in 1939 to Central Avenue Methodist Church, then in 1969 left that building, relocated to Albemarle Road, and changed the name to Central.” Central UMC was tragically burned in 2008 at the hands of an arsonist. The church was built anew in a testament of an unwavering faith. And in tracing the windows placed in honor of Michael and his brother Rev. Henry Garmon, such memories may have been destroyed by the fire. I’d love to be able to find an image of the windows placed in honor of Rev. Henry Garmon and his brother Michael. To those reading these words, PLEASE pass on such images or information about them if you are in the know of where they may be found. Below is an image of First Charlotte Protestant Methodist found online.


Getting back to Michael and Henry Garmon, they were sons of another Michael Garmon and his wife Maria Magdalena Shore. Maria is the daughter of Elizabeth Love who married Heinrich Shore in Stokes County NC. Elizabeth is the sister of Jonah Love who founded Love’s Chapel Methodist Episcopal church. So, there is a Methodist connection running through both the Love and Garmon families. And, remember that per the official 1874 deed, Michael Garmon owned a tract of land adjoining the property on which sits Brown Hill AME now stands. A very important detail, is it possible Michael Garmon’s Methodist influence led him in the founding of Brown Hill AME church? What’s the connection?

Going back to the height of the civil war, on 12 Jan 1864, The Charlotte Democrat reported on the leadership of an organization known as the Mecklenburg County Bible Society. The article lists leaders from various denominations including Protestant Methodists. Representing the Protestant Methodist church was:

“Brown’s Hill – Michael Garmon, James Allen”

The name James Allen runs deep in Stanly and Anson Counties. What was his connection to Michael Garmon and to the Methodist church? And then there is Michael Garmon …named as representative of Brown Hill Church well before the believed 1874 start date!

Apparently ten years prior to the 1874 acquisition of land for use by the Methodist AME church, there was already a church in place. From the article we know Michael Garmon represented Brown Hill in 1864. And as told in Brown Hill AME’s history, we know there was an old building on the property when at that time it was purchased. We now know where now stands Brown’s Hill AME, there once stood a Methodist Protestant church having the same name.

So, why was there a change? Remember that Love’s Grove Protestant Methodist was formed just down the road in the 1860’s. I believe in honor of her husband Michael Garmon Love, Phoebe Love, the daughter of Thomas Love (brother of Jonah) donated land for the new church ca. 1865. And note that Thomas Love, also a Methodist, was once on the board of trustees for Bethel Methodist not far away in Cabarrus County.
Serving in the civil war Michael Garmon Love wrote home to his wife Phoebe in Nov 1863. The letter reads:

…Deare wife I wish that this civil ware wod stope soe that we all cold come home to live with our famles a gain as we Did Be for this ware tuck plase and I am in hopes that we all will be at home til Spring – hit is thought that N. C. will go back in the Union and I hope that she will and that Be fore Spring for I cant help but think that we are on the rong side.

Michael Garmon Love held to sympathies. Yet, the spring came and turned to summer. The war raged on until in1864 he was forced to return home from Virginia due to illness. Michael Garmon Love died in November 1864 which event I believe inspired his wife Phoebe to build a new church.

As one church came to be, the other fell. There was not room for two. And though Brown Hill Methodist Protestant Church may have begun long before the 1860’s, its doors closed as those at Love’s Grove first opened. And in doing so, the old church building known as Brown’s Hill was purchased and eventually made anew by African American’s who were once Free People of Color as well as the slaves of those whose ties continued in faith and the occasional sharing of worship. For generations to come, I feel it important that the congregations be able to envision this thread of history binding Brown Hill AME to its namesake Brown Hill Methodist Protestant. The thread also winds through the congregations of Love’s Chapel and Love’s Grove Methodist churches in securing a beginning for First Charlotte Methodist Protestant as well as today’s Central UMC.

The land upon which Brown Hill AME stands today has a long and rich history. Please stay tuned for an upcoming post to be based on information gleaned from a study of local land records. Illuminating the lives of those who came before the founding of Brown Hill AME, there are more stories to be told.