The County Seat was first called Rowan Court House. It has
been called Salisbury since about 1755.
Postcard dated around 1918 of the
Rowan County Courthouse
Rowan County was formed in 1753 from Anson
County, and was named for Matthew Rowan (d. 1760), acting
governor at the time the county was formed. The county seat is
Salisbury. Initially, Rowan County included the entire northwestern
sector of North Carolina, with no clear western boundary, but
its size was reduced as a number of counties were split off.
The first big excision was to create Surry County in 1771.
Burke and Wilkes counties were formed from the western parts
of Rowan and Surry in 1777 and 1778, respectively, leaving a
smaller Rowan County that comprised present-day Rowan, Iredell
(formed 1788), Davidson (1822), and Davie (1836). Surry, Burke,
and Wilkes subsequently fragmented further as well. Depending
on where your ancestors lived, you may want to look at records
for some of these later counties also. Records of very early
land grants in the Rowan County area will be found with Anson
A Colonial History of Rowan County, North
Carolina, by Samuel Ervin, Jr., published by the University of
North Carolina, 1917, Edwards & Broughton Printing Company,
Raleigh, North Carolina
CHAPTER 1. Description of Rowan County.
CHAPTER II. The Settlements and Boundaries of Rowan County.
CHAPTER III. Colonial Salisbury.
CHAPTER IV. Relations with the Indians.
CHAPTER V. The Courts and Officials of Rowan County and Salisbury
CHAPTER VI. The Regulators.
CHAPTER VII. The Churches of Early Rowan.
CHAPTER VIII. Education in Rowan.
CHAPTER IX. The Safety Committee.
CHAPTER X. Social and Industrial Conditions.A COLONIAL HISTORY
ROWAN COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA
DESCRIPTION OF ROWAN COUNTY
The heirs of the eight nobleman to whom Charles II had granted
in 1663 found that vast territory an unprofitable and unruly
1728, therefore, the owners of seven of the eight equal undivided
offered to sell all their interest in Carolina to the Crown,
proposition was accepted. In the following year the purchase
completed, the seven proprietors who surrendered their claims
17,500 pounds sterling, and the relinquishment of the lands being
confirmed by an act of Parliament. John, Lord Carteret, afterwards
created Earl Granville, alone of the eight lords retained his
In 1744, his part of Carolina was set off for him by grant from
II, all the territory lying between the Virginia line on the
north and the
parallel of 35ø 34' on the south being allotted to him.
boundary of this immense tract was the Atlantic Ocean and the
Mississippi River.2 At this time the portion of this grant west
present eastern boundaries of Randolph, Guilford, and Rockingham
was just being entered by enterprising settlers. It is with the
west of the above-mentioned boundary lines that this sketch is
This region embraced the northern part of two of the three great
divisions of North Carolina Piedmont section and the Mountain
The part included in the Piedmont is blessed by nature with countless
streams and an endless succession of hills and valleys which
one goes westward. Its climate is invigorating and wholesome.
The soil is
very fertile, especially along the banks of the rivers and creeks.
earth contains great mineral wealth in the form of coal, iron,
other metals, ores, and min-
1 Ashe, 217; Williamson, 26-27.
2 Col. Rec. IV, x.6 James SPRUNT Historical Publications
erals. Among the trees found in the forests are the white
oak, the white
hickory, the white ash, the elm, the maple, the beech, the poplar,
persimmon, the black walnut, the yellow pine, and the mulberry.
what has been said of the Piedmont district is also applicable
Mountain division. The Blue-Ridge Mountains a portion of the
Range lie partly within its borders. Here the wild cherry, the
pine, the hemlock, the black birch, the white walnut, the chestnut,
beech, the locust, and many other trees grow. The mineral resources
this section arc more abundant than those of the Piedmont. The
region is above all else a land of health and beauty.3 The earliest
visitor to this territory who recorded anything was John Lawson,
Surveyor-General of the Province of North Carolina. In December,
accompanied by several other Englishmen and Indian guides, he
Charleston for an exploration of the northern province.4
His tour extended as far west as the section later erected
into Rowan County. The
land embracing the southern part of the county as it now stands
counties to the south he described as "Pleasant savanna
ground, high and
dry, having very few trees upon it, and those standing at a great
distance. The land was very good and free from grubs or underwood.
near Sapona (the Yadkin) may more easily clear ten acres of ground
in some places he can one; there being much loose stone upon
lying very convenient for making of dry walls or any other sort
fence. The country abounds likewise with curious, bold creeks,
for small craft, disgorging themselves into the main rivers that
them- selves into the ocean. These creeks are well stored with
sorts of fish and fowl, and are very convenient for the transportation
what commodities this place may produce."5 Lawson continued
his journey a
few miles further north, passing through a country which he characterized
as "a delicious country; none that I ever saw exceeds it."
grass, six feet high, grew along the creeks, and the sepulchres
3 Hand-book of N. C., 22-46.
4 Lawson, 19.
5 Lawson, 80. A Colonial History of Rowan County 7
dians were seen. Lawson found the town of the Sapona Indians
an open field about a mile square on the fertile and pleasant
banks of the
Sapona River, as the Yadkin was then called.6 This town was near
Ford, a few miles east of the site of the present city of Salisbury.
Trading Ford was so called because it was on the ancient Trading
which traders from Virginia traveled at an early date in going
Catawbas and other southern Indians.7 Lawson was delighted with
around the Yadkin. He says: "This most pleasant river may
broader than the Thames at Kingston, keeping a continual warbling
with its reverberating on the bright marble rocks. . . . One
the river is hemmed in with mountainy ground, the other side
rich a soil as any this western world can afford.8 A numerous
swan and other water fowl were on the stream and many small birds
its banks.9 The travelers were entertained by the old king of
Saponas, who proved very friendly to the white men. Neighboring
Indians were the Toteros, who inhabited the "westward mountains,"
Keyauwees, who dwelt in a village about forty miles west of Trading
These three nations were small, and at that time were planning
in order to strengthen themselves and become formidable to their
About ten days before Lawson's arrival among them the Saponas
five northern Indians. Indians from the north ranged over the
and were a terror to the less warlike tribes of the south. The
were preparing to put. the captives to death with cruel torture,
released them upon the request of the Toteros, some of whom,
prisoners by the northern Indians a short time before, had been
treated and permitted to return to their own people.10 The old
the Saponas took much pride in several horses which he owned.
highly pleased with the country. Every step, he declared, presented
new object to his view.
6 Lawson, 81.
7 Rumple, 15.
8 Lawson, 81,
9 Lawson, 83.
10 Lawson, 82-84.8 James Sprunt Historical Publications
Beavers, swan, geese, and deer were plentiful in the neighborhood
Yadkin. During the stay of the explorers at Sapona town a party
Toteros, "tall, likely men," came down from the west
"having great plenty
of buffaloes, elks, and bears with other sort of deer amongst
of the Indian doctors acquainted Lawson with a large quantity
medicines that were produced in those parts.11 After remaining
days at Sapona Lawson's party made a two days trip to the westward.
The country became more mountainous and many streams were crossed.
distance of some thirty or forty miles west of the Yadkin they
town of the Keyauwees, situated five miles northwest of a rocky
called the Heighwaree. Near the town was another stream. The
"more mountainous, but extremely pleasant and an excellent
place for the
breeding (of) sheep, goats, and horses or mules," The valleys
fertile. The village of the Keyauwees was encircled by high mountains,
large cornfields adjoined the cabins of the savages. No grass
the high cliffs and the growth of trees upon them was sparse.
in this region was of a reddish color, which Lawson said signfied
the presence of minerals. The Keyauwees received the travelers
hospitality, Lawson lodged at the house of Keyauwees Jack, a
Indian, who had obtained the chieftainship through marriage with
queen, for among the Indians descent was counted on the female
Keyauwees were unique in that most of them wore mustaches or
habit rarely practiced by Indians.l2 Two or three days were spent
the Keyauwees. Most of the members of Lawson's party desired
straightway to Virginia, but he was determined to continue his
the coast of North Carolina. He and one companion, therefore,
farewell to the rest of the group. On the third day's journey,
passing over many waters and through rich lands, they reached
River, whence they made their way to the coast of the province.13
did not penetrate the wilderness as far westward as the Catawba
Nor did he learn anything of the powerful
11 Lawson, 84-85.
12 Lawson, 67-91.
13 Lawson, 92-105. A Colonial History of Rowan County 9
Cherokees who lived beyond the mountains and who at a future
date were to
make incursions into the settlements, bringing devastation and
with them. The Saponas, Keyauwees, and Toteros combined with
small tribes and removed to Virginia soon after Lawson's departure.
dwelling in Virginia, a few miles north of the Roanoke, for twenty-five
they returned to Carolina and lived with the Catawbas.l4
THE SETTLEMENTS AND BOUNDARIES OF ROWAN COUNTY
The exact date of the appearance of settlers in Rowan County
determined. We have already seen that long before the cabin of
permanent settler was erected traders from Virginia frequented
in order to barter with the Indians. The chief contributors to
were the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians from the north of Ireland,
Germans, usually known as Pennsylvania Dutch, who adhered to
the tenets of
the Lutheran and German Reformed Churches, and the Moravians,
Brethren, from Moravia and Bohemia. From time to time men belonging
one of these groups came to the frontier, but such settlers formed
small part of the total number of inhabitants. The Scotch-Irish
most active and probably the most numerous part of the population.
people were Scotch in blood, being descendants of the Scotch
English rulers had placed on the confiscated lands of Irish rebels
Province of Ulster, in north Ireland, during the seventeenth
distinguish them from the natives of Scotland they have received
of Scotch-Irish.l Some forty years prior to the outbreak of the
Revolutionary War they began to flock to America. Foote, in his
"Sketches of North Carolina," assigns their migration
to three causes,
namely: religion, politics, and property.2 Disabilities were
them because they were not members of the established church
they desired more political
14 Ashe, 180.
1 Foote, 84-90.
2 Foote, 120.10 James Sprunt Historical Publications
liberty than they enjoyed in the old world; and the ease with
could he obtained in America was a third powerful incentive to
coming hither.3 Some came to Charleston and pushed into the frontier
country from that place, but most of them landed in Pennsylvania
after making some settlements in that. province, turned southward,
1739 located in the Valley of Virginia.4 The administration in
was constantly opposed to religious freedom. Earl Granville disposed
his lands in Carolina upon favorable terms, for he desired to
their value by rapid settlement.5 Therefore, influenced by the
nature of the climate and soil, the peacefulness of the Catawba
and the laxity of North Carolina laws in comparison with those
on the subject of religion, the Scotch-Irish passed through the
lands in Virginia, in the neighborhood of their countrymen, and
for themselves in western North Carolina. As early as 1740 a
were located on the Hico, Eno, and Haw rivers in the territory
of Rowan.6 By the year 1745 the Scotch-Irish had established
in the fertile and well-watered area between the Yadkin and the
and previous to 1750 their settlements were scattered throughout
region from Virginia to Georgia.7 The Scotch-Irish settled mainly
country west of the Yadkin. Among these immigrants were the Nesbits,
Allisons, Brandons, Luckeys, Lockes, McCullochs, Grahams, Cowans,
McKenzies, Andrews, Osbornes, Sharpes, Boones, MeLauchlins, and
The Scotch-Irish have ever been known as a religious, brave,
liberty-loving people. Among other families from the British
appeared in Rowan at an early date we find the names of Cathey,
Morrison, Linville, Davidson, Reese, Hughes, Ramsay, Brevard,
Dickey, Braley, Moore, Emerson, Kerr, Rankin, Torrence, Templeton,
Houston, Hackett, Rutherford, Lynn, Gibson, Frohock, Smith, Bryan,
Little, Long, Steele, Bell, Macay, Miller, Blackburn, Craige,
Caldwell, Dunn, Gillespie, and many others.
3 Williamson, 70-71.
4 Ashe, 276.
5 Williamson, 71.
6 Col. Rec., V, 1193.
7 Ashe, 276 ; Col. Rec., V, 1193.
8 Rumple, 24. A Colonial History of Rowan County 11
The Scotch-Irish were soon followed by another stream of immigrants
Germans who had previously located in Pennsylvania. The route
German and Scotch-Irish settlers took in making the overland
Pennsylvania to western North Carolina is described by Colonel
On Jeffrey's map, a copy of which is in the Congressional
Washington City, there is plainly laid down a road called "the
from the Yadkin River through Virginia to Philadelphia, distant
miles." It ran from Philadelphia through Lancaster and York
Winchester, thence up the Shenandoah Valley, crossing the Fluvanna
to Looney's Ferry, thence to Staunton River, and down the river
the Blue Ridge, thence southward, crossing Dan River below the
Mayo River, thence still southward near the Moravian settlement
Yadkin River, just above the mouth of Linville Creek and about
above the mouth of Reedy Creek.9
The Germans did not extend their settlements quite so far
west as the
Scotch-Irish did. They were industrious and economical in their
and formed a valuable part of the population. As the laws were
and expounded in English and all public business was transacted
language, the Germans were incapable, in most instances, of participating
in public affairs.l0 The process whereby they were naturalized
taking of several oaths prescribed by law and the repeating and
subscribing of the test. The test, as entered on the court records
the county, was in this form:
I, A. B., do believe in my conscience that there is not any
transubstantiation in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper or in
elements of bread and wine at or after the consecration thereof
Among the early German settlers appear the names of Bernhardt,
Meisenheimer, Beard, Mull, Rintelman (Rendleman), Layrle (Lyerly),
(Coon), Friese, Eisenhauer, Suther, Winecoff, Cress, Walcher,
Savitz, Henkel, Moser, Braun (Brown), Lingle, Fisher, Berger,
Peeler, Holtzhauer, Kluttz, Roseman, Foet, Shupping, Beam, and
9 Col. Rec., IV, xxi.
10 Rumple, 29.
11 Col. Rec., VII, 521-522.12 James Sprunt Historical Publications
Other settlers from Virginia and the north came by a route
that passed through the section now embraced by Caswell County.12
Immigrants poured into the western country very rapidly. In 1751
Governor Johnston informed the Board of Trade that settlers flocked
the province daily, mostly from Pennsylvania and other parts
but some from Europe. Many thousands had then come in and settled
in the west so that they had almost reached the mountains. In
Matthew Rowan estimated that there were not more than one hundred
men in the entire western part of the province between Virginia
Carolina. Seven years later he thought that there were then at
three thousand fighting men in the same territory, and stated
numbers were increasing rapidly. These settlers were for the
"Irish-Protestants" (Scotch-Irish) and Germans.13
These settlers, coining as they did in groups, locatd (sic) in
neighborhoods to themselves, forming respectively Scotch-Irish
communities, scattered throughout the wilderness, and maintaining
own customs, speech, and characteristics, and largely transmitting
posterity.14 About 1750, Quakers from the north located at New
what is now Guilford County, and from time to time were joined
of that sect so that a distinctly Quaker settlement was formed
The bitter persecutions which they suffered in their native lands
Moravia and Bohemia for the sake of their religion and the desire
preach "the pure gospel of love" to the inhabitants
of America and to
preach to the Indians prompted the Moravians to seek homes in
world. The Moravians were well known for their thrift and industry,
Earl Granville, who desired to people his grant in North Carolina
worthy settlers, made them a liberal offer.16
In the autumn and winter of 1752, Bishop Spangenberg, who was
sent by the
Unitas Eratum, or Moravian Church, to select a
12 Ashe, 277.
13 Col. Rec., IV, xxi; Col. Rec. , V, 24, 25.
14 Ashe, 277.
15 Weeks, 104-105
16 Clewell, 1-3. A Colonial History of Rowan County 13
place for their settlement, made an extensive tour of western
Carolina. Leaving Edenton in September, on November 12th. he
the Catawba near what he called the "Indian Pass."
The nearest cabin was
that of Jonathan Weiss, or Perrot, a hunter, twenty miles distant.
bishop found a number of hunters in the vicinity who lived like
and secured furs and skins for sale. A week later he was near
Meadows, about two miles from where the town of Morganton now
which he considered to be fifty miles beyond the settlements.
of Cherokees pursuing game filled the woods. Continuing his course
northward, he found remains which indicated that Indians had
country in earlier times.17 It being in the beginning of winter
guide mistaking the way, Spangenberg's party entered the mountains
they endured great hardships and difficulties owing to the severity
weather. Happening upon a branch of New River, they followed
to within fifteen miles of the Virginia line. Then, with the
aid of a
compass, they traveled directly southeast through the wilderness
finally reached the Yadkin River, after having been lost in the
Ridge Mountains for two weeks. Here a few miles from the present
Wilkesboro they rested with a Welshman named Owen, who had built
far from the settlements. Spangenberg understood that there was
habitation within sixty miles.18 On December 27, the bishop reached
site of Wachovia, on Muddy Creek, in the present county of Forsyth.
surveyed about 73,000 acres of land. Spangenberg's Journal says
most of this land is level and plain, the air fresh and healthy,
water good."19 More land was afterwards added, so that in
Earl Granville conveyed 98,985 acres to the Moravians.20The grant
the name of the "Wachovia Tract" in honor of one of
of Count Zinzendorf, a leader of the Moravian Church of Austria.21
On April 3, 1753, a petition bearing the signatures of 348 of
inhabitants of the upper and frontier portions of Anson
17 Col. Rec., V, I et seq.; Ashe, 278; Clewell, 6-9.
18 Col. Rec., V, 1-14; Ashe, 278-279; Clewell, 8-9.
19 Col. Rec., T, 14.
20 Clewell. 12.
21 Bernheim, 156.14 James Sprunt Historical Publications
County, which, comprehended most of the western part of North
was read in the lower house of the General Assembly. The petitioners
forth the great difficulties they had to undergo in traveling
distance to the courthouse of Anson County and prayed that the
section of the county be erected into a new one.22 Two days later
introduced a bill to this effect, and the bill in its final form
the assent of Matthew Rowan, the acting governor, on April 12th.23
section of the act defining the boundaries of the new county,
named in honor of Matthew Rowan, read as follows:
Be it enacted . . . that Anson County be divided by a line,
where Anson line was to cross Earl Granville's line, and from
thence, in a
direct line north, to the Virginia line, and that the said county
bounded to the north by the Virginia line, and to the south by
southermost line of Earl Granville's land; and that the upper
part of said
county, so laid off and divided, be erected into a county and
the name of Rowan County and St. Luke's Parish; and that all
inhabitants of the westward of the said line, and included within
before-mentioned boundaries, shall belong and appertain to Rowan
The design was to include in Rowan all that part of Anson
within. Earl Granville's tract, that is, all north of latitude
far north as the Virginia line. As near as can be determined,
boundary of the new county was a line running north and south
eastern boundaries of the present counties of Randolph, Guilford,
Rockingham. The southern boundary line, beginning at the southeast
of Randolph, ran due west along Earl Granville's line, on the
of Randolph, Davidson, Rowan, and Iredell, as they now exist,
Catawba River a short distance above Beattie's Ford, thence due
cutting into Lincoln County and running a few miles north of
through Cleveland and Rutherford, through Hickory Nut Gap, and
Buncombe, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Cherokee, and on to the
indefinitely. According to the terms of the act Rowan extended
as far west as
the South Seas. At the time, however, the region west of the
22 Col. Rec., V, 59.60.
23 Col. Rec., Y, 53.
24 State Rec., XXIII, 390. A Colonial History of Rowan County
tains was unknown and the French territory of Louisiana practically
the Mississippi River the western limit.25 In 1754, the act to
Rowan County was revoked by George II simultaneously with the
establishing Orange and Cumberland, which had been passed a short
before. Arthur Dobbs, the newly arrived governor, in a letter
Board of Trade, dated November 9, 1754, recommended that such
The reasons assigned for the revocation of these acts are that
Assembly had begun to exercise more authority than was entirely
to the royal government in England, and by the establishment
counties the Assembly was increased in membership too rapidly.27
In 1756 the Assembly itself repealed the act creating Rowan.28
In the same year,
however, with the consent of the king, Rowan, Orange, and Cumberland
reestablished with the same boundaries and limits as formerly,
and all deeds
and conveyances of land made during the period of the revocation
declared valid.29 Salisbury had already been selected as the
of Rowan and a village had commenced to grow up there.30 In the
the year in which the Wachovia Tract was conveyed to the Moravians
colonists, twelve unmarried Brethren, came overland from Bethlehem,
Pennsylvania, where a strong Moravian settlement existed, and
Bethabara. The group consisted of the Rev. Bernhard Adam Grube,
pastor, Jacob Loesch (Lash), the warden or business manager,
Martin Kalberlahn, a physician, Hans Peterson, a tailor, Christopher
Merkly, a baker, Herman Loesch (Lash), a farmer, Erich Ingebretsen,
carpenter, Johannes Lisher, a farmer, Henrich Feldhausen, a carpenter,
Jacob Lung, a gardener, Friedrich Jacob Pfeil, a shoemaker and
Jacob Beroth, a farmer.31 The zeal with which the Moravians labored
their new home is best described by Dr. Clewell.
During the first year not less than fifty acres of land had
pared for farming purposes. They recognized that, in this sparsely
25 Rumple, 32-33.
26 Col. Rec., V, 151.
27 Rumple, 34-35.
28 State Rec., XXIII, 446-447.
29 State Rec., XXIII, 470-471.
30 Col. Rec., V, 355.
31 Clewell, 13-31.16 James Sprunt Historical Publications
tled section, it would be difficult to secure provisions,
hence at the
very outset they began to raise cattle and to plant a variety
of grain for
their future use and comfort. In the first summer they gathered
corn, flax, millet, barley, oats, buckwheat, turnips, cotton
and tobacco, in
addition to the garden vegetables. Fruit trees were planted and
kinds of medicinal herbs. . . . Diversity of industries is said
the real test of the prosperity of a place. In 1754, with the
strain of clearing land and building houses, we find the record
commenced with their neighbors, and the notes indicate that they
operation the following: Carpenter shop, shoe shop, tailor establishment,
tannery, pottery, cooper shop, blacksmith shop.32
In October, 1755, two years after the establishment of Rowan
St. Luke's Parish, upon the request of the Moravians of Wachovia,
Assembly passed an act creating Wachovia into a separate and
parish with all the privileges and immunities which the other
parishes of the
province enjoyed. The new parish was called Dobbs in honor of
Governor.33 In 1759 eight married couples from Bethabara and
others founded Bethania, three miles northwest of Bethabara.
continued to come to Wachovia. In 1766 the settlement of Salem
begun.34 A few years later Friedberg, which had gradually grown
up in southern
Wachovia, and Friedland, in the southeast of the tract, which
settled by Germans from Broad Bay in the present State of Maine,
formally set off and recognized.35 The growth of Rowan in population
continual and rapid from the beginning, except during the Indian
1759-60, when the Cherokees devastated the outlying settlements.
At that time
immigration almost ceased.36 The immigrants obtained titles to
Granville's lands through his agents, Francis Corbin and James
The land offices in his territory were closed at his death in
offices remained closed until 1773, when Governor Josiah Martin
appointed agent.39 In the confusion existent just before the
the taking out of grants, how-
32 Clewell, 24-25.
33 Col. Rec.,V, 558; State Rec. XXIII, 438-9; Fries, 22-25.
34 Fries, 26,28.
35 Clewell, 76-79.
36 Ashe, 303.
37 Rumple, 34.
38 Ashe, 320.
39 Ashe, 410. A Colonial History of Rowan County 17
ever, does not seem to have been resumed. Despite the fact
titles to land could be obtained after 1763 settlers continued
into the Granville tract. Much discontent arose among the inhabitants,
some dreading the expected reopening of the land offices because
abuses of the agents, and others being displeased because they
obtain title to the lands improved by their efforts.40 It was
time that the Jersey Settlement on the east side of the Yadkin,
miles from Salisbury, was made by settlers from New Jersey.41
Granville's death the quarrel which had arisen between him and
McCulloh was settled. Sixteen hundred square miles of land between
Uwharrie and the Catawba had been set aside from Henry McCulloh,
received grants on the headwaters of the Neuse, Pee Dee, and
rivers from the Crown about the year 1736.42 As the land between
Uwharrie and the Catawba lay within Earl Granville's territory
disagreement as to ownership naturally resulted. The controversy
concluded by a compact that McCulloh should become Granville's
in lieu of all other rents, pay an annual sum of 400 pounds from
1760, after which date he was to pay 4 shillings for every hundred
retained by him, but was to reconvey and surrender to Granville
not then settled.43 About 1761 Henry E. McCulloh, his son, came
Carolina and began to dispose of his father's lands in Rowan
reasonable prices. In four years time he disposed of and laid
off all of
his father's tracts in Rowan and gave deeds for the same to the
purchasers.44 At the beginning of 1766 Governor Tryon said he
that North Carolina was being settled faster than any other province,
that in the preceding autumn and winter about one thousand wagons
families accompanying them passed through Salisbury.45 As the
multiplied and settlements were made in the outlying parts of
the inhabitants of communities distant from the seat of government
to demand the erection
40 Ashe, 320,401.
41 Ashe, 380.
42 Ashe, 277,253.
43 Ashe, 292.
44 Col. Rec., VII, 15-16.
45 Col. Rec., VII, 248.18 James Sprunt Historical Publications
of counties in their respective neighborhoods, in order that
administration of public affairs might be carried on with greater
convenience. Bills were introduced in the Assemblies of 1766
and 1768 to erect the western part of Orange and the eastern
Rowan into a new county. These, however, failed to be enacted
In January, 1771, Griffith Rutherford, a member of the Assembly
Rowan, introduced a bill for ascertaining the boundary line between
and the counties of Mecklenburg and Tryon, which lay to the south.47
measure was expedient because the settlers on the borders of
counties refused to pay their taxes in any of them. Lord Granville's
line had never been surveyed so far westward. Thomas Neal, Thomas
Matthew Locke, Griffith Rutherford, and Peter Johnston were appointed
run the line, and the inferior courts of the three counties were
authorized to levy a tax sufficient to defray the expense.48
At the same session the General Assembly recognized the urgent
necessity of setting up new
counties within the vast territory embraced by Rowan. A bill
establishing Guilford County and Unity Parish in the region lying
Salisbury and Hillsboro.49 (Guilford, which was named for Francis
Earl of Guilford, and father of Lord North, Prime Minister of
during the Revolution, was composed of territory taken from Rowan
The portion taken from Rowan was that which now makes up the
Guilford, Rockingham, and Randolph. John Pryor, Edmund Fanning,
Martin, Matthew Locke, John Dunn, Griffith Rutherford, and John
were appointed a committee with authority to run the lines and
with workmen for the building of the courthouse, prison, and
for Guilford County.50 Another act passed by the same Assembly
established Surry County and St. Jude's Parish in the north of
Surry was named in honor of Lord Surrey, a prominent member of
Parliament who opposed the taxation of the American colonies
46 Col. Rec., VII, 325, 364, 915, 929.
47 Col. Rec., VIII, 4.22-423, 384.
48 State Rec., XXIII, 841-842.
49 Col. Rec., VIII, 363.
50 State Rec., XXIII, 823-826.
51 Col. Rec., VIII, 380. A Colonial History of Rowan County 19
that body. Governor Tryon considered these acts very timely
the too great extent of Rowan. He declared that the creation
out of Rowan and Orange was "a truly political act,"
for it separated the
main body of the Regulators from Orange and put them in the new
By the act of January, 1771, the boundary between Rowan and Surry
at a point in the Guilford line forty-two miles north of the
line, and ran due west parallel to the southern limit of Granville's
tract.53 This line split the Wachovia Tract, or Dobbs Parish,
into halves to
the disadvantage of the Moravians. The inhabitants of Dobbs Parish
it more convenient to transact their business in and to attend
of Surry County. Accordingly they petitioned the Assembly to
pass a law
including the entire Wachovia Tract in Surry.54 Although it was
that such alteration of the boundary would "greatly facilitate
inhabitants of the north part of Rowan and enable the people
of Surry to
erect their public buildings," the lower house rejected
a bill for
the"alteration of the line at its meeting in December, 1771.55
In 1773 the request of the residents of Wachovia was acceded
to. The Assembly
enacted that the line between Rowan and Surry should begin at
a point in
the line dividing Guilford and Rowan counties, thirty-six miles
the southeast corner of Rowan, and run west to the range separating
waters of the Yadkin and Catawba rivers, and thence follow that
ridge and the
mountains northward to the Virginia line. The boundary was parallel
the southern line of the Granville grant save where the bounds
interfered, all of this tract being included in the county of
Dobbs Parish being established separate and distinct from St.
committee was appointed to ascertain the boundaries and take
the erection of the public buildings of Surry. Griffith Rutherford,
Anthony Hampton, John Braby, Robert Lanier, and Christian Ruiter
members of the committee.56 During the following year, as the
work on the
52 Col. Rec., VIII, 527.
53 State Rec., XXIII, 844-846.
54 Col. Rec., IX, 47.
55 Col. Rec., IX, 153-190.
56 Col. Rec., IX, 443, 583 ; State Rec., XXIII, 906-907.20 James
public buildings was unfinished and a majority of the commissioners
resided in Rowan, a new commission composed of residents of Surry
chosen by the Assembly.57 The attempts to establish a county
Rowan were unsuccessful, though Rutherford proposed bills for
in 1771 and 1773.58 By 1771 the western settlements had reached
the mountains. Many of the settlers lived more than one hundred
Salisbury, and as there were no magistrates among the far outlying
settlements the administration of the laws in those parts was
a matter of
great difficulty.59 During colonial times the only records regularly
of the number of inhabitants were those computed in terms of
A taxable was a white male above sixteen years of age or a negro
mulatto slave of either sex above twelve years.60 The returns
show that the number of taxables in Rowan one year after its
were 1,170, 1,116 being whites and 54 blacks.61 Thirteen years
number of taxables had increased to 3,643.63 The population continued
grow proportionately. The people of Rowan were sturdy, hardy,
industrious, brave and enterprising, and did their "bit"
foundations for the new nation that was to be born in the western
The first Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions met somewhere
in the county
in June, 1753. The place of its meeting is unknown.l The court
site for the public buildings of Rowan. and Edward Hughes was
obtain a grant of forty acres from Earl Granville's agents for
purpose. John Dunn and John Whitsett were appointed to see that
was laid off in a suitable manner, and the latter was awarded
57 Col. Rec., IX, 927; State Rec., XXIII 973.
58 Col. Rec., IX, 116, 117, 461, 506.
59 Col. Rec., IX, 91-92.
60 Col. Rec., VII, 487.
61 Col. Rec., V, 162, 320, 575.
62 Col. Rec., VII, 539.
1 Rumple, 35 A Colonial History of Rowan County 21
building the courthouse. This house, the court directed, should
framework, weatherboarded, thirty feet long and twenty wide,
a story and a
half high, with two floors, the lower one raised two feet above
ground. It was to be provided with an oval bar and a bench raised
feet from the floor. There was to be a good window behind the
with glass in it, and a window near the middle of each side,
and a door in
the end opposite the bench The deed for the township lands is
February 11, 1755. On that day William Churton and Richard Vigers,
Granville's agents, conveyed 635 acres of land for "Salisbury
James Carter and Hugh Foster, trustees for Rowan County. The
which the public buildings had been erected was included in this
Salisbury received its name from Salisbury, England, on the banks
Avon River.4 Dr. Rumple says that the courthouse was not completed
1756, although the jail, pillory, and stocks were finished and
in use before
that date.5 Governor Dobbs, however, who passed through Salisbury
summer of the preceding year, found the town just laid out, the
built and seven or eight log houses erected.6 In 1755 and 1756
John Lewis Beard, Peter Arrand, Jacob Francks, Archibald Craige,
Bower, and Thomas Bashford and Robert Gillespie were licensed
ordinaries, or inns, in Salisbury.7 Among the other early residents
the town appear James Alexander, who died there in 1754, John
Irishman, and an Oxford man, William Temple Cole, who conducted
and John and Thomas Frohock. As most of the settlers built their
where they could obtain large and fertile farms, the growth of
was slow. In early times it was composed of the public buildings,
residences of some of the county officials, a store or two, a
a blacksmith shop, and a few inns. Nevertheless, Salisbury was
a place of
considerable importance. Here the county courts, the
2 Rumple, 44-47.
3 Rumple, 47.
4 Hunter, 166.
5 Rumple, 46.
6 Col. Rec., V, 355.
7 Rumple, 42.22 James Sprunt Historical Publications
courts of oyer and terminer and general jail delivery, and
Courts of the western counties were held.8 In 1766 Salisbury
first member to the Assembly as a borough town.9 In 1770 a special
statute was passed by the Assembly called "An act for regulating
The preamble stated that the town had "a healthy, pleasant
well watered, and convenient for inland trade." It was enacted
county courts and the superior courts for the District of Salisbury
all public elections should thenceforth he held at Salisbury.
sheriff, the clerk of the court for the county, and the register
were required to maintain their
offices in the town. The citizens were required, under penalty
of fine, to clear, repair and pave
the streets whenever it was deemed necessary, and they were forbidden
to throw rubbish into
them. Such citizens as allowed their "hogs, shoats, or pigs"
to run at large in the town should pay
20 shillings proclamation money to the party whose property was
damaged thereby, and forfeit
the hogs. It was lawful for any one to kill swine running at
In order to afford protection against fires, every householder
was compelled to keep two
"sufficient" leather buckets and a ladder always ready
for use. The title to the burying ground
was vested in a body of commissioners appointed by the act. Immoderate
riding and driving
were prohibited under penalty of 5 shillings. All persons owning
land within the original plan of
the town and adjoining either side of Corbin and Innes streets,
the two main streets of the village,
were required to build a "house, twenty-four feet by sixteen
feet in the clear, of brick, stone, or
hewed logs, with either a good brick or a stone chimney,"
within three years after the passage of
the act. Failure to do so entailed a forfeiture of the land to
the town. Those persons owning a lot
or part of a lot adjoining the two streets running parallel to
Corbin and Innes streets were
required to build a house of like dimensions within four years.
It was provided, however, that
these conditions should not be construed to affect or invalidate
the claim of any infant or married
8 Rumple, 61-63.
9 N. C. Manual (1913), 381. A Colonial History of Rowan County
All persons in Salisbury, including servants, slaves, and
travelers were allowed free access to all
springs and natural fountains of water in the town and the town
common, and trees standing upon
the town common could be cut down by any person for sale or use.
The town commissioners
were authorized to select and lay out a suitable place for a
market and other public buildings.
William Steele, John Dunn, Maxwell Chambers, John Lewis Beard,
Thomas Frohock, William
Temple Cole, Matthew Troy, Peter Rep, James Kerr, Alexander Martin,
and Daniel Little were
appointed town commissioners. They were to hold office for life.
In case of removal of any
commissioner the county court had power to appoint his successor.
Other provisions in the
interest of government and sanitation were included in the act.10
All acts passed before the Revolution for building new public
buildings in Salisbury in place of
the old resulted in failure. In 1764 a poll tax was laid on the
taxables of Rowan, Anson, and
Mecklenburg, the counties which composed Salisbury District,
for repairing the jail and building
a wall around the same and for erecting a jailer's house.11 Laws
passed by the Assembly in 1766
and 1771 for building a new jail, pillory, and stocks were not
carried out, the War of the
Regulation preventing their execution.12 In 1771 the courthouse
at Salisbury was said to be
"greatly decayed and in so ruinous a condition that courts
cannot be held there." A committee
was appointed to contract with workmen for building a new courthouse
on the site of the old one,
and a tax was laid on the taxables of Salisbury District for
this purpose.l3 As the tax authorized
was insufficient, an additional tax was laid on the people of
Rowan County. The commissioners
being residents of different counties and living at a great distance
from each other these efforts
came to naught. Another committee, appointed in. 1774, likewise
failed to perform the trust
reposed in them, and the old courthouse continued in use.14
The members of the Assembly from the borough of Salisbury were
John Mitchell (1766-1768),
John Dunn (1769 and 1770-1771), and Hugh Montgomery (January,
1773, and 1773-1774).
10 State Rec., XXIII, 810-813.
11 State Rec., XXIII, 621-622.
12 State Rec., XXIII, 750-752, 863.
13 State Rec., XXIII, 866.
14 State Rec., XXIII, 927, 971-972.24 James Sprunt Historical
The members in the Provincial Congresses were William Kennon
(August, 1774), Hugh
Montgomery, and Robert Rowan (August, 1775), and David Nisbet
RELATIONS WITH THE INDIANS
The contest between England and France for supremacy in North
America, which had ceased for
the time being with the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, was
renewed in 1754. Most of the
tribes of North America were in alliance with the enemy. The
frontier of North Carolina was
placed in a very precarious situation. At the beginning of the
war the Cherokees and Catawbas
were friendly to the frontiersmen, but soon the savages began
to molest the whites. There was
great uneasiness among the people of Anson and Rowan because
they did not know at what
moment the Indians might take up the tomahawk against the settlements.
Early in the year 1754 1,000 pounds in proclamation money that
is, in money which was issued
by the provincial government and which was greatly depreciated
in value was appropriated to
buy arms for the poorer inhabitants of Rowan and Anson.l The
expenditure of this money was
entrusted to commissioners in the two counties, James Carter
and John Brandon being the
commissioners in Rowan.2 The commissioners wasted a part of the
sum and neglected to apply
all of it for the purpose designated. The final result of the
misuse of these public funds was that
the bonds given for the faithful execution of the trust were
put to suit. In November, 1757,
James Carter was expelled from his seat in the Assembly as member
for Rowan, and in the
following year judgments were obtained against the commissioners
and their sureties for the
amounts unaccounted for.3
In May, 1754, complaints were made by the magistrates and
15 N. C. Manual (1913), 381, 408.
1 Col. Rec., V, 109.
2 State Rec., XXIII, 394.
3 Col. Rec., V, 892, 1082. A Colonial History of Rowan County
militia officers of Rowan that a party of Indians, supposed
to have been Catawbas, had
committed several gross abuses on the people of Rowan and Anson.4
Alexander Osborne and
James Carter were directed by the Assembly to investigate the
alleged grievances and to
represent the same to the Indians. In August they consulted with
King Hagler and other warriors
of the Catawba nation at the house of Matthew Toole, who acted
as interpreter. It developed that
some of the young warriors of the Catawbas had been guilty of
some misconduct. King Hagler
laid the blame for their actions upon the whites who sold "strong
spirits" to the braves. The
Catawbas promised to give assistance to the North Carolinians
and Virginians in case the war
A few weeks later Matthew Rowan, who as president of the Council
acted as governor during the
interim between Gabriel Johnston's death and Arthur Dobbs' arrival,
received intelligence from
Colonel Clark, of Anson, that sixteen whites had been murdered
and ten carried into captivity by
Indians. Thereupon Rowan sent the available supply of powder
and lead to the frontier and
ordered Colonel Smith, the commanding officer of Rowan County,
to cooperate with Colonel
Clark.6 These facts serve to give an idea of the state of uncertainty
prevalent in the west.
The defeat of General Braddock by the French and Indians on the
Monongahela in July, 1755,
left the western frontier of the southern colonies at the mercy
of the hostile Indians. The news of
the defeat reached Governor Dobbs while he was inspecting conditions
in the frontier country.
He summoned the field officers of the militia of Rowan and Anson
to meet him at the Yadkin.
At the meeting he ordered that fifty of the most active men of
the militia of each county be placed
under the command of Captain Hugh Waddell. He also directed that
the militia should join
Waddell when necessary, and that Waddell should assist them in
case of an incursion.7 Captain
Waddell was at the west at this time in charge of a company of
frontiersmen.8 Though he was
not a resident of Rowan he owned land in the county and was
4 Col. Rec., V, 175-176.
5 Col. Rec., V, 141 et seq.
6 Col. Rec., V, 144d.
7 Col. Rec., V, 857.
8 Ashe, 289.26 James Sprunt Historical Publications
prominently connected with public affairs in the west for
a considerable time.9
Upon his return to New Bern in September Dobbs addressed the
Assembly in regard to the
dismal state of affairs existing in the western counties. He
asked that body to grant aid for the
defense of the distressed inhabitants of the frontier and for
offensive warfare against the enemy,
and recommended the erection of a fort for refuge to the settlers.
He had chosen the site for such
a fort between Third and Fourth creeks in Rowan during the summer.
In this emergency the Assembly willingly agreed to appropriate
funds for the building of a fort on
the western border. Fort Dobbs, as the stronghold was called,
was built in 1756 under the
supervision of Captain Waddell.10 It stood on an eminence on
Third Creek, good springs near
by furnishing water for the garrison.11
Soon after its completion Richard Caswell and Francis Brown were
sent by the Assembly to view
the western settlements, to find sites for other fortifications,
and to inspect Fort Dobbs. Their
report included the following quotation:
And that they had likewise viewed the State of Fort Dobbs, and
found it to be a good and
Substantial Building of the Dimentions following (that is to
say) The Oblong Square fifty-three
feet by forty, the opposite Angles Twenty-four feet and Twenty-two,
in height Twenty- four and a
half feet as by the Plan annexed Appears, the Thickness of the
Walls which are made of Oak
Logs regularly diminished from sixteen Inches to Six, it contains
three floors, and there may be
discharged from each floor at one and the same time about one
hundred Musketts; the same is
beautifully situated in the fork of Fourth Creek, a Branch of
the Yadkin River. And they also
found under the command of Capt. Hugh Waddell Forty-six Effective
men Officers and Soldiers,
as by the List to the said Report Annexed Appears, the same being
sworn to by the said Capt. in
their Presence, the said Officers and Soldiers Appearing well
and in Good Spirits Signed the 21st
day of December, 1756.
In the same year Captain Waddell entered into an offensive and
defensive treaty with the
Catawbas and Cherokees in behalf of the Assembly. Atta-Kulla-Kulla,
of the Cherokee nation,
9 Waddell, 32.
10 Ashe, 291; Waddell, 30-31.
11 Ashe, 290.
12 Waddell, 85-86. A Colonial History of Rowan County 27
Hewat "esteemed to be the wisest man of the nation and
the most steady friend of the English,"
and Oraloswa, King Hagler, and others of the Catawba tribe, were
the representatives of the
Indians who agreed to the compact. By one of the stipulations
of the treaty North Carolina
undertook to erect a fort for the protection of the Catawbas.
It is not known where this fort was
built, but the location is thought to have been at Old Fort in
McDowell County.13 After making
the treaty Waddell remained on the frontier with his command
until November, 1757, when he
took his seat in the Assembly as successor to James Carter.14
Captain Andrew Bailey was in
command of another company employed in Rowan.15
Having endured some discomforts at the hands of the Indians and
being disturbed by accounts of
the massacre of their Brethren in Pennsylvania, the inhabitants
of Bethabara, in Wachovia,
fortified their town with stockades. This was done in July, 1756.16
An independent company
of militia was formed by the Moravians for defense, and Jacob
Loesch was commissioned as its
In 1757, after returning from a campaign in Virginia, a party
of Catawbas robbed a wagon. They
were followed and the stolen goods were retaken. Thereupon, the
Catawbas returned and
insulted the Chief Justice, who was holding court in Salisbury.
In May, 1758, a petition was read
in the Assembly setting forth that murders recently committed
on the Dan River in the northern
part of Rowan County had caused the settlers of the forks of
the Yadkin to abandon their
settlements and praying that Captain Bailey, who had succeeded
Waddell, and his company, or
some other, be continued for their protection.18
The Cherokees, however, adhered to the provisions of the treaty
of 1756. Hugh Waddell, who
was now a major, led one hundred men from the western frontier
on General Forbes's successful
expedition against Fort Duquesne in 1758. They were accompanied
by a number of Cherokee
warriors.19 As a convenience to the
13 Waddell, 32-33.
14 Col. Rec., V, 897-898 ; Waddell, 33.
15 Ashe, 291.
16 Clewell, 36-42.
17 Col. Rec., V, 810.
18 Col. Rec., V, 1, 1010.
19 Ashe, 291-292.28 James Sprunt Historical Publications
Cherokee allies, commissaries were appointed in the western
counties to furnish necessaries for
the Indians while passing to and from Virginia in the service
of the colonies. George Smith was
commissary for Rowan.20 The reports of the Committee of Public
Claims of the province show
that others were allowed claims for furnishing provisions to
the Indians during their transit to and
from Virginia.21 Many Cherokees and Catawbas going north went
through the Moravian
communities, where they were provided with food and kindly treated.22
When returning from the campaign against Fort Duquesne, worn
out with fatigue, a party of the
Cherokees seized a number of horses running wild in the backwoods
of Virginia to aid them on
their homeward journey. The backwoodsmen of that province fell
upon them and killed twelve
or fourteen of the warriors. This act provoked the Cherokees
In May, 1759, Governor Dobbs informed the Assembly that he had
received expresses stating
that several murders had been committed by Indians, thought to
have been Cherokees, on the
western frontier. Major Waddell was given the commission of colonel
and two companies of
provincials to protect the inhabitants of the west. He was authorized
to call out the militia of
Anson, Rowan, and Orange if the Indian devastations should continue.
In the autumn Governor
Lyttleton of South Carolina conducted an expedition against the
Cherokees. The provincials and
500 militia under Colonel Waddell were ordered to cooperate with
Lyttleton. Though the great
majority of the militia refused to march outside the borders
of North Carolina, Waddell
continued his march with the remainder until ordered back by
Lyttleton, who patched up a peace
with the Indians.24
Now the Indians burst upon the settlements with all their fury.
Captain Ashe, in his "History of
North Carolina," describes the situation in this manner:
In October, 1759, the people who had made their homes on the
waters of the Yadkin and
Catawba heard with dismay that the Creeks and
20 Col. Rec., V, 835, 853, 854.
21 Col. Rec., V, 978 et seq.; Col. Rec., VI, 210.
22 Ashe, 290.
23 Waddell, 63-64.
24 Col. Rec., V, I-li. A Colonial History of Rowan County 29
Cherokees, theretofore friendly, had declared war against
the English. Bands of Indians began to
pass the defiles of the mountains and roam along the foothills.
A reign of terror set in. Accounts
of atrocities and butcheries and of destroyed homes came thick
and fast to Salisbury and
Bethabara. They were intensely harrowing, while some of the escapes
were marvelous. Many
brave men, reluctant to abandon their homes, fortified them with
palisades, and forts or
strong-houses were erected where neighboring families could assemble
for safety. The men slept
with their rifles at hand, and the most resolute were in dread
of stealthy attack, of ambush, and of
having their houses burned at night. It was then that Fort Defiance
and other forts in that region
were hastily constructed by the people.
The narratives of those who escaped were heartrending, while
many men, women and children
fell victims to the cruel tomahawk of the merciless foe. Few
particular accounts of these
individual experiences have been preserved; but all the section
west of the Catawba and of the
upper Yadkin was desolated.25
On February 27, 1760, the Indians attacked Fort Dobbs, but
were beaten off by the small garrison
under Colonel Waddell and Captain Bailey.26
Though atrocities were perpetrated in the immediate vicinity
by the score Bethabara was not
attacked. This village was a city of refuge to the distressed.
For six weeks the Cherokees
devastated the surrounding country and waited for an opportunity
to assail the town. Once when
a large body had stealthily surrounded the village, they retired
at the sound of the village bell,
fearing that they had been discovered. Again, under similar circumstances,
they retired at the
sound of the watchman's trumpet. By Easter, 1760, the residents
and refugees of Bethabara were
secure, for 400 soldiers had arrived at the town.27
After the reduction of Canada, Colonel Grant of the British Army
was sent south to lead an
expedition against the Cherokees. Early in 1761 he invaded their
country by way of South
Carolina and defeated the hostile Indians. The Cherokees sued
for peace and the war came to an
The end of the struggle was followed by rapid expansion to the
west. In April, 1766, Governor
Tryon wrote the Board of Trade
25 Ashe, 299-300.
26 Col. Rec., VI, 229-230.
27 Ashe, 300-301.
28 Martin, Vol. II, 150-151.30 James Sprunt Historical Publications
that Fort Dobbs was then in ruins, and the inhabitants of
the province had extended their
settlements upwards of seventy miles beyond the fort.29
In May of the following year Tryon went to Salisbury to have
the boundary between the people of
North Carolina and the Cherokees marked out. The design was to
separate their respective lands
so as to put an end to the disputes between the whites and the
Cherokees in the west, which had
resulted in bloodshed more than once. At Salisbury Tryon was
joined by John Rutherford,
Robert Palmer, and John Frohock, who had been. appointed to run
the line. They were later
joined by Alexander Cameron, Deputy Superintendent of Indian
Affairs for the southern
colonies. On May 21st they left Salisbury accompanied by detachments
from the militia
regiments of Rowan and Mecklenburg.30 Colonel Hugh Waddell was
in command of the escort.
The staff officers were Edmund Fanning, adjutant general; Isaac
Edwards, aide-de-camp to the
governor; Captain William Frohock, commissary; and Rev. John
Wills, chaplain. The
detachment from each county numbered thirty-two men, the one
from Rowan being commanded
by Lieutenant-Colonel John Frohock, and the one from Mecklenburg
Moses Alexander.31 Altogether, including servants, the party
numbered ninety-six.32 On May
31st the Indians met Tryon and his escort, and the governor made
a "talk" to them. Some of the
band were sent back to Salisbury with an order for presents worth
175 pounds, which the
Assembly had appropriated for the Indians as a sign of friendship.
The Cherokees honored Tryon
by giving him the title of Ohiah Equah, or Great Wolf.33 The
meeting occurred in South
Tryon departed before the real work of running the line began.
On June 4 the commisioners
(sic), with a guard of twenty men and the assistance of Cameron
and Cherokee representatives,
began the actual survey. They ran the line as far north as Tryon
Mountain in the present county
of Polk, south of the territory included in Rowan.34
29 Col. Rec., VII, 203.
30 Haywood, 56-57.
31 Col. Rec., VII, xiii, 991; Haywood, 57.
32 Col. Rec., VII, 995.
33 Haywood, 58.
34 Haywood, 57-58. A Colonial History of Rowan County 31
THE COURTS AND OFFICIALS OF ROWAN COUNTY AND
Before the Revolution Salisbury was the judicial center of
Western North Carolina. In addition
to the county court of pleas and quarter sessions, the superior
court of justice, and the court of
oyer and terminer and general jail delivery for the western counties
were held there.
The court of pleas and quarter sessions had both judicial and
administrative functions. It had
jurisdiction over minor cases, and the local government of the
county was vested in it. The court
was composed of the justices of the county, and it assembled
at the county-seat four times
annually. As we have already seen, the court of pleas and quarter
sessions met for the first time
somewhere in the county in June, 1753. The justices who presided
over the courts during the
first year were Walter Carruth, Thomas Lovelatty, James Carter,
John Brandon, Alexander
Cathey, Thomas Cook, Thomas Potts, George Smith, Andrew Allison,
John Hanby, Alexander
Osborne, James Tate, John Brevard, and Squire Boone, the father
of the great hunter and explorer
Daniel Boone, who was reared in Rowan County.l
The first court busied itself with registering the brands which
the settlers employed in
distinguishing their cattle and in selecting a site for the public
buildings. Constables were
appointed to preserve the peace in the different sections of
The grand and petit juries for the first court were composed
of Henry Hughey, John McCulloch,
James Hill, John Burnett, Samuel Bryant, John McDowell, James
Lambath, Henry Dow- land,
Morgan Bryan, William Sherrill, William Morrison, and William
Linvil. The county officers
were Richard Hilliar, deputy attorney-general; John Dunn, clerk
of court; James Carter, register ;
John Whitsett, treasurer; Francis Corbin, colonel of the Rowan
regiment of foot; and Scotton
Davis, captain in Corbin's regiment.2
1 Rumple, 38.
2 Rumple, 39-41.32 James Sprunt Historical Publications
In 1755 John Dunn and William Monat presented their com- missions
as attorneys to the court.
Of Monat nothing can be discovered.3 John Dunn was a prominent
lawyer and held many public
trusts. He was at one time attorney for the Crown, being succeeded
by Waighstill Avery in
Prior to 1770 the following men served as sheriff of Rowan, in
the order named: David Jones,
Edward Hughes, Benjamin Miller, William Nassery, Francis Locke,
Griffith Rutherford, Andrew
Allison, and William Temple Cole.5
The members of the Assembly and Provincial Congresses from Rowan
were as follows:
1746 (47)-1754. James Carter and John Brandon, who took their
seats at the thirteenth session.
1754-1760. John Bravard and James Carter. The latter was expelled
for misapplication of public
funds and was succeeded by Hugh Waddell, who took his seat at
the fifth session.
1760. Hugh Waddell and John Frohock.
1761. John Frohock and Alexander Osborne.
1762 (April and November). John Frohock and John Kerr.
1764-1765. John Frohock and William Giles. The lower house seated
1766-1768. John Frohock and Griffith Rutherford.
1769. Griffith Rutherford and Christopher Nation.
1770-1771. Griffith Rutherford and Matthew Locke.
1773 (January). Matthew Locke and Griffith Rutherford.
1773-1774. Griffith Rutherford and Matthew Locke.
1775. Griffith Rutherford and Matthew Locke.
August, 1774. Moses Winslow and Samuel Young.
April, 1775. Griffith Rutherford, William Sharpe, and William
August, 1775. Matthew Locke, James Smith, Moses Winslow,
3 Rumple, 43.
4 Col. Rec., X, 189.
5 See Col. Rec., VIII, 280-281; Col. Rec., IX, 675. A Colonial
History of Rowan County 33
Samuel Young, William. Kennon, William Sharpe, and Robert
April, 1776. Griffith Rutherford and Matthew Locke.6
In 1754 the governor chose Salisbury as the proper place for
holding the courts for the counties
of Rowan, Anson, and Orange.7 At the same time an act was passed
establishing a superior
court of justice and a court of oyer and terminer and general
jail delivery for these counties to he
held at Salisbury.8 Orange was soon taken away and put into a
different district, and in 1760 and
1762 Salisbury District was composed of Rowan and Anson.9 Other
frontier counties were
added to the district from time to time.
The superior court of justice had jurisdiction over "all
pleas of the crown (treason, felony, and
other crimes committed in breach of the peace), suits at common
pleas, legacies and estates of
intestates, whether original or on appeal from the inferior courts.l0
Robert Jones, the attorney-general of the province, prosecuted
suits in the superior court of
justice of Salisbury District against the commissioners of Rowan
and Anson who had misapplied
the public funds entrusted to them for the defense of the frontier.ll
At March Term, 1766, James Hasell, who had been appointed Chief
Justice of the province by
Governor Tryon, qualified by taking the oaths prescribed by law.
Edmund Fanning qualified as
Associate Justice for the District of Salisbury. He resigned
the office of attorney-general of the
court, which he had theretofore occupied, and was succeeded by
William Hooper.12 The fact
that Edmund Fanning was a judge at this time seems to have been
overlooked by historians.
At September term Chief Justice Hasell and Judge Fanning presided.
Isaac Edwards took the
oaths of an attorney and was appointed by the court as attorney
for the Crown in the absence of
Mr. Hooper, who arrived several days late. Frederick Fraley,
George Logall, George Adwicke,
and Christopher Blake were naturalized.l3
6 N. C. Manual (1913), 381-382, 408.
7 Col. Rec., V, 260.
8 State Rec., XXV, 274-287.
9 State Rec., XXIII, 874, 946.
10 Raper, 156.
11 Col. Rec., V, 1082-1084.
12 Col. Rec., VII, 191-192.
13 Col. Rec., VII, 255-256.34 James Sprunt Historical Publications
Salisbury District was now composed of Mecklenburg, Anson
and Rowan counties.14
September term of 1767 was held by Associate Justice Fanning.
Richard Henderson, of Granville
County, was appointed attorney for the Crown during the absence
of the attorney-general. Chief
Justice Hasell and William Hooper appeared later.15 Richard Henderson
afterwards purchased a
large tract of land lying in Tennessee and Kentucky and employed
Daniel Boone to blaze the way
for a colony, which was established at Boonesborough, Kentucky,
just before the Revolution.
This tract of land was purchased from the Cherokees.16
The superior court of justice in March, 1768, was held by Maurice
Moore and Richard
Henderson, who took the oaths of Associate Justices of the colony.
William Hooper was
appointed attorney for the Crown, and James Forsyth qualified
as a lawyer.l7
In September, Chief Justice Martin Howard and Judges Henderson
and Moore presided. William
Hooper produced a commission constituting him Crown attorney.18
At the session in March of the following year, held by Judge
Henderson, Thomas Frohock gave
bond and qualified as clerk of the court for Salisbury District.l9
In 1772 Adlai Osborne, of
Mecklenburg, was appointed to this position.20
The third colonial court which assembled at Salisbury was the
court of oyer, terminer and general
jail delivery. This court had jurisdiction of criminal cases'
The court met in June and December
of each year.22
A typical term was that held in June, 1775, for Rowan, Anson,
Mecklenburg, Tryon, Surry, and
Guilford, the counties which then made up Salisbury District.
Judge Alexander Martin, of
Rowan, presided. Adlai Osborne was appointed clerk, and Benjamin
B. Boote took the oath as
deputy attorney-general for the district. William Kennon's name
appears in the records as a
14 Col. Rec., VII, 477.
15 Col. Rec., VII, 521-522.
16 Ashe, 429.
17 Col. Rec., VII, 690-691.
18 Col. Rec., VII, 838.
19 Col. Rec., VIII, 19.
20 Col. Rec., IX, 318-319.
21 Raper, 159.
22 State Rec., XXIII, 946. A Colonial History of Rowan County
lawyer. Many criminal cases were disposed of at this term.
Thomas Ward was convicted of
stealing 11 shillings and sentenced to receive "thirty-nine
lashes on his bare back, well laid on, at
the public whipping-post." James Patterson was acquitted
of the charge of counterfeiting and
David Jones of murder. William Woodliff was found not guilty
of horse-stealing. Stephen
Herring and Joseph Pettoway, being convicted of robbery, and
Oliver Wallace of murder, the
court sentenced them to be hanged "by the neck" until
they were "dead, dead, dead," and the
sheriff of Rowan was directed to put the sentence into execution
on the conventional day
The execution of a criminal was not a rare occasion in those
days. There were a score of crimes
which bore the death penalty, and, as appears from the records
of Rowan, the judges did not
scruple to put these laws into effect. The blow of the law fell
swiftly upon the guilty.
The question, as to the character of the Regulation has been
often and fully discussed by the
historians of North Carolina. Some think that the Regulators
were an oppressed people
contending for justice; others that they were a misguided mob
seeking to prevent the enforcement
of the law. It is not the purpose in this sketch to side with
either group, but merely to state the
occurrences of the trouble in Rowan County.
The Regulators complained of the injustice of the officials,
of extortion, of corrupt courts, and of
being compelled to pay taxes in money, of which there was a scarcity
in circulation. The
movement was most prevalent in Orange, Anson, and Rowan, though
it existed to a less degree
in many other counties. The discontented men formed a systematic
organization. Meetings were
held and petitions were sent to Governor Tryon, but they were
either refused or ignored.l One of
the chief policies of the Regulators was the refusal to pay taxes.2
23 Col. Rec., X, 1-9.
1 Tompkins, 37-38.
2 Col. Rec., VIII, 637.36 James Sprunt Historical Publications
The people were especially bitter towards Edmund Fanning,
of Hillsboro, and John Frohock, of
Salisbury. Rednap Howell, "the Poet Laureate of the Regulators,"
lampooned them in this wise:
Says Frohock to Fanning : "To tell the plain truth,
When I came to this country I was but a youth;
My father sent for me; I warn't worth a cross;
And then my first study was to steal for a horse;
I quickly got credit, and then ran away,
And haven't paid for him to this very day."
Says Fanning to Frohock: '"Tis folly to lie,
I rode an old mare that was blind of an eye;
Five shillings in money I had in my purse,
My coat it was patched, but not much the worse;
But now we've got rich, and it's very well known
That we'll do very well if they'll let us alone.3
The Regulators resisted all efforts on the part of the sheriffs
of Rowan to collect taxes. In
October, 1763 [a misprint for 1768?], Francis Locke informed
the inferior court that two
thousand taxes for the year 1766 were unpaid, and that the collection
of them was violently
opposed by the Regulators. He attempted to "take, seize,
and destrain a sorrel gelding" belonging
to James Dunlap for his taxes for 1764, 1765, and 1766, but Dunlap
and fifteen others unlawfully
rescued the horse from Locke.4
Andrew Allison, who was sheriff in 1765, was able to collect
only two hundred and five taxes.5
The situation became so perplexing that in 1770 there was no
sheriff in Rowan, Adam Allison
who had been appointed by Tryon being unable to give security
for the discharge of the duties of
the office. His friends did not doubt his integrity or honesty,
but feared that the confused state of
the county would involve them in many suits.6
In April, 1768, Edmund Fanning, of Hillsboro, wrote Tryon that
the Regulators claimed that they
could command a powerful force from Anson, Rowan, and Orange.
He asked Tryon for orders to
raise the militia and advised immediate war upon the
3 Col. Rec., VIII, xli.
4 Col. Rec., VII, 856, 857.
5 Col. Rec., VIII, 227.
6 Col. Rec., VIII, 64. A Colonial History of Rowan County 37
insurgents. Tryon gave him permission to call out the militia
of Bertie, Halifax, Granville, Rowan,
Mecklenburg, Anson, Cumberland, and Johnston.7
About the 1st of July Tryon went to Hillsboro, where Husbands
and Butler, who had been
arrested several months before, were to be tried. Husbands was
a Quaker preacher and the prime
mover in the Regulation. Tryon visited Rowan and enlisted troops
for the protection of the
court.8 dearly two hundred of the Rowan militia and three hundred
of the Mecklenburg attended
the court at Hillsboro.9 At this time matters quieted a little,
but soon. the situation became
An excellent opportunity for a peaceable solution of the problem
in Rowan occurred in March,
1771. The Regulators of the county decided to visit Salisbury
superior court. On March 6 four
or five hundred assembled on the west bank of the Yadkin. Hearing
of their plans, Alexander
Martin and John Frohock went to them and found some armed and
some unarmed. The
Regulators said that their intention was not to disturb the court
or to injure the person, or property
of any one, but to petition for a redress of grievances against
the officers taking exorbitant fees,
and that their arms were for defense. Good order prevailed, threats
being made by only a few of
the lower characters.
They were informed that the judges did not deem it prudent to
hold court in Salisbury. The
Regulators replied that there would have been no danger for the
Chief Justice, but as to the other
judges they were silent. In behalf of the officers of Rowan,
Martin and Frohock offered to give
the Regulators satisfaction for their complaints, and the Regulators
selected a committee to
confer with the officers.
The Regulator committee proposed to leave every complaint to
the decision of men chosen by
the two parties. They selected Herman Husbands, James Graham,
James Hunter, and Thomas
Person, and the officers chose Matthew Locke, John Kerr, Samuel
Young, and James Smith.
This committee was to meet in May and arbitrate and settle every
difference. Only the officials
7 Col, Rec., VII, 115. 748.
8 Col. Rec., VII, xxii.
9 Col. Rec., VII, 886; Tompkins, 38.38 James Sprunt Historical
Rowan County, and those voluntarily, were included in the
On the 7th the officers agreed "to settle and pay unto any
and every person within the county any
and all such sum or sums of money as we or our deputies have
taken through inadvertency or
otherwise over and above what we severally ought to have taken
for fees more than the law
allowed or entitled us so to receive, without any trouble or
law for the recovery of the same."
John Frohock, William Frohock, Griffith Rutherford, Thomas Frohock,
Benjamin Miller, John
Brawley, Andrew Allison, Francis Locke, John Dunn, Alexander
Martin, William Nazary
(Nassery), and William Temple Cole signed the agreement, they
being or having been officers of
Thereupon the Regulators returned quietly to their homes. Three
companies of Rowan militia
and seventy or eighty men from Mecklenburg were in Salisbury
ready to oppose them had any
violence been offered.12
When Governor Tryon received intelligence of the proposed settlement
with the Regulators he
immediately wrote Alexander Martin a letter which included the
This mode . . . of your agreement with the insurgents, by
including officers who are amenable
only for their public conduct to the tribunal of their country,
is unconstitutional, dishonorable of
government and introductive of a practice the most dangerous
to the peace and happiness of
society. On the 18th of last month it was determined by consent
of his Majesty's Council to raise
forces to march into the settlements of the insurgents in order
to restore peace to the country
upon honorable terms and constitutional principles. This measure
is not intended to impede, nor
has it the least reference to, the agreement between you gentlemen
and the Regulators, though it
is expected in the execution of it more stability will be added
to our government than by the issue
of Convention ratified at Salisbury.13
Tryon's rebuke and disapproval of the plan caused its failure.
If Tryon had been farsighted
probably the difficulties could have been settled without a struggle.
As it was, however, both
factions prepared for the final test of strength. Governor Tryon
10 Col. Rec., VIII, 533 et seq.
11 Col. Rec., VIII, 621-522.
12 Col. Rec., VIII, 535-536.
13 Col. Rec., VIII, 645. A Colonial History of Rowan County 39
General Hugh Waddell through Rowan and Mecklenburg to raise
troops. Waddell enlisted one
hundred in Mecklenburg and almost twice that number in Rowan.
When marching to join Tryon,
Waddell was intercepted at the Yadkin by a larger force of Regulators
and turned back, so that he
did not join the governor until after the battle.14
Meanwhile Tryon proceeded westward with ten or twelve hundred
men.15 He met the forces of
the insurgents at Alamance Creek and defeated them, thereby bringing
open opposition to an
From May 30th to June 20th, the supreme court of oyer and terminer
was held at Hillsboro for
the trial of captured Regulators. Twelve were convicted of high
treason, and six of them were
executed. The most distinguished victim was Benjamin Merrill,
who had formerly been a
captain of the militia in Rowan. In concluding his sentence,
the Chief Justice said:
I must now close my afflicting duty by pronouncing upon you
the awful sentence of the law;
which is that you, Benjamin Merrill, be carried. to the place
whence you came, that you be drawn
from thence to the place of execution, where you are to he hanged
by the neck; that you be cut
down while yet alive, that your bowels be taken out and burnt
before your face, that your head be
cut off, your body divided into four quarters, and this to be
at his Majesty's disposal; and the Lord
have mercy on your soul.17
It is impossible to conceive of a more brutal, barbarous sentence
Soon afterwards the Assembly passed an act allowing the sheriffs
an additional year in which to
collect the taxes which had not been paid.18 James McCoy was
appointed to collect those for
1770, the year when no sheriff served Rowan.19
14 Tompkins, 38-39.
15 Tompkins, 39.
16 Col. Rec., VIII, 609 ; Haywood, 125-126.
17 Col. Rec., VIII, 643.
18 State Rec., XXV, 620-521.
19 State Rec., XXV, 521-522.40 James Sprunt Historical Publications
THE CHURCHES OF EARLY ROWAN
The early inhabitants of the county were a distinctly religious
people. Many of them had come to
the new world that they might worship God in their own way. Consequently,
as soon as they
were settled in their new surroundings they proceeded to found
places of worship.
The destruction by fire of the early records of Orange Presbytery
has rendered it difficult to give
an account of the different Presbyterian churches with the dates
of their establishment. The
Presbyterians formed a considerable part of the population of
Rowan, most of the Scotch-Irish
being of this faith. In the list of taxables for 1767 it is remarked
that the population was "mostly
A congregation was organized before Rowan was taken from Anson
County. On January 17,
1753, John and Naomi Lynn conveyed twelve acres of land, more
or less, "to a congregation
belonging to ye Lower meeting house, between the Atking River
and ye Catabo." It is stated that
this congregation, adhered to a minister belonging to the Synod
of Philadelphia. On the
following day another deed was made conveying an additional tract
of twelve acres to the same
congregation. This church was first called the Lower Meeting
House. Being in the vicinity of
James Cathey's home, it was later called Cathey's Meeting House,
and finally Thyatira. No
record of its first elders and members is extant.
Further west, near the present town of Statesville in Iredell
County, was the Fourth Creek
congregation, which was later divided among the churches of Fourth
Creek, Concord, and
Bethany. Fourth Creek congregation was organized and its boundaries
were defined by the two
missionaries, the Rev. Messrs. Spencer and McWhorter, who visited
it in 1764. Fourth Creek
church, however, was in existence long before that time. It is
said that Fourth Creek church was
collected into a congregation as early as 1751
1 Col. Rec., VII, 541. A Colonial History of Rowan County
and its place of worship selected by 1756. The Rev. John Thompson.
appeared in this locality as
early as 1751. He resided near the historic Centre Church. Mr.
Thompson preached at Fourth
Creek and other stations in Rowan for about two years. He was
a very influential pastor. People
came twenty and twenty-five miles to hear his sermons and "sometimes
he baptized a score of
infants at once." In 1773, the people who made up the congregation
of Fourth Creek were
divided among 196 families of 111 different names. All of these
communicants lived within ten
miles of the church.2
In 1753 the Synod of Philadelphia sent two missionaries, Mr.
McMordie and Mr. Donaldson, to
visit Virginia and North Carolina. They were directed by the
Synod "to show special regard to
the vacancies of North Carolina, especially betwixt Atkin and
In 1755 the Rev. Hugh McAden made a missionary tour through North
Carolina.4 Early in
September he arrived in eastern Rowan, and thence continued his
course westward, preaching at
several meeting houses and in private homes. Sometimes he preached
to congregations "pretty
regular and discreet," but sometimes he found them "solemn
and attentive, but (with) no
appearance of the life of religion." He delivered a sermon
at the meeting house which had been
erected in the Jersey Settlement, and to the congregation at
Cathey's, and at several other houses
of worship west of the Yadkin. In the latter part of October
he passed on into Mecklenburg
In the same year the Synod of New York directed the Rev. John
Brainard and the Rev. Elihu
Spencer to supply vacancies in North Carolina. They do not seem
to have done so, for there is no
record of their visit.
For ten years the congregations of the Presbyterians held together,
though no regular minister
appeared.6 No doubt, from time to time, itinerant preachers passed
through Rowan and preached
at the meeting houses and in private homes. In 1764
2 Rumple, 333-335.
3 Foote, 159.
4 Caruthers, 94.
5 Foote, 167-169.
6 Rumple, 336.42 James Sprunt Historical Publications
and 1765 the Rev. Messrs. Spencer and McWhorter visited the
county and fixed the limits of the
different congregations. A new congregation called Centre was
established, its name being
derived from the fact that it was composed of territory between
Fourth Creek and Thyatira. The
Centre congregation lived in Mecklenburg and in that part of
Rowan which now lies in Iredell
County. It appears that this region was filled with various preaching
places before Spencer and
McWhorter persuaded the inhabitants to combine into one church.7
In 1765 Fourth Creek and Thyatira united in a call to the Rev.
Mr. Spencer, who had returned to
New Jersey. They sent wagons all the way to that province to
bring his family to Rowan, but he
declined to accept the call. Thyatira was without a regular pastor
until 1772. Then Rev. Mr.
Harris became its minister and remained about two years.8 The
Rev. Samuel E. McCorkle
became the pastor of Thyatira in 1777, and James Hall, the soldier-preacher,
became the minister
of Fourth Creek Church one year later.9
The Presbyterians did not found a church in Salisbury until about
the year 1821.10
There was a Presbyterian meeting house in eastern Rowan (now
Guilford) before 1768. In that
year Adam Mitchel conveyed an acre of land to John McKnight and
William Anderson, "trustees
for the Presbyterian congregation on the waters of North Buffalo."
This congregation belonged to
the Synod of New York and Philadelphia. The deed shows that a
"meeting house and a study
house" had already been erected.11 The building designated
as a "study house" was probably a
school. The inferior court of Rowan licensed the North Buffalo
meeting house soon
afterwards.12 The church was situated near the present site of
In 1764 the Rev. Henry Pattillo, a Presbyterian divine, who labored
in Orange, established a
church called Alamance about
7 Foote, 36, 433-434.
8 Rumple, 336-337.
9 Foote, 324, 354.
10 Rumple, 342-343.
11 Col. Rec., VII, 857-859.
12 Col. Rec., VIII, 507.
13 Foote, 233. A Colonial History of Rowan County 43
seven miles from Greensboro.14 These two churches secured
as their pastor Dr. David Caldwell,
a Pennsylvanian by birth, and a graduate of Princeton. In 1766
he married Rachel, the daughter
of the Rev. Alexander Craighead, of Sugar Creek Church, in Mecklenburg,
and settled with his
congregations of Buffalo and Alamance.15 Caldwell established
a school in the neighborhood
about 1767. This school obtained the name of the "Log College,"
and was the means of training
a number of the foremost men of North Carolina.16
At a meeting of the Presbytery at Buffalo in March, 1770, David
Caldwell, Hugh McAden,
Joseph Alexander, Henry Pattillo, Hezekiah Balch, and James Criswell
petitioned the Synod of
Philadelphia and New York for the organization of a new presbytery,
to be called Orange. Their
petition was granted.17
THE GERMAN REFORMED AND LUTHERAN CHURCHES IN ROWAN
The German Reformed Church originated in Switzerland, its
doctrines being derived from the
Swiss reformer, Ulric Zwingli, who was a contemporary of Martin
Luther. This Church differed
from the Lutheran upon the question of the sacrament of the Lord's
Supper and other theological
doctrines. It is a Calvinistic church.18 Denying Luther's theory
of consubstantiation, Zwingli
regarded the sacrament as efficacious merely for its commemorative
and social aspects.19
The Germans who came to Rowan from Pennsylvania and settled along
Second Creek were
members of the Reformed and Lutheran churches. Being too few
in numbers to erect houses of
worship for each of the two denominations, they united in building
a temporary structure on the
lands of a Mr. Fullenwider. This church was called the Hickory
Church and stood on the site
now occupied by St. Peter's Lutheran Church. The date of its
erection is not given, but no doubt
it was built quite early, for the section was settled by German
immigrants about 1750. For a
14 Foote, 283.
15 Col. Rec., V, 1219; Caruthers, 26.
16 Caruthers, 30-31.
17 Col. Rec., V, 1213; Caruthers, 96-97.
18 Rumple, 435-436.
19 Hulme, 281.44 James Sprunt Historical Publications
years there was no pastor to minister to the needs of those
who worshiped at the Hickory
Before Hickory Church obtained a minister the Lutherans in and
around Salisbury formed a
congregation. This church was the first Lutheran church organized
in North Carolina and was
named St. John's. John Lewis Beard, a prominent and wealthy resident
of Salisbury and a
Lutheran by profession, was bereaved by the death of a daughter.
Her remains were buried in a
lot containing nearly an acre of ground belonging to her father.
Desirous that the grave of his
daughter should never be disturbed, Mr. Beard donated the lot
to the German Lutheran Church.
On September 9, 1768, he conveyed the land to the trusees (sic)
of the church. It was stipulated
that ministers of the Church of England and the Reformed Church
might utilize the church when
not used by the Lutherans. Soon after the lot was granted to
them the Lutherans erected a log
church upon it. This structure was the first house of worship
built in Salisbury. The lot is now
known as the Lutheran graveyard, or the Salisbury Cemetery.21
Where the Germans were to obtain a pastor was a difficult problem
to solve. As there was a
scarcity of ministers in Pennsylvania. it was futile to consider
the possibility of securing one
there.22 As some three thousand German Protestants were located
in Rowan, Orange,
Mecklenburg, and Tryon counties and their numbers were rapidly
increasing by birth and
immigration, sixty Lutheran families residing on Second Creek
in Rowan decided to seek help
from the Protestants of Europe. They declared that the want of
a minister of their denomination
had produced "a great ignorance of the word of God and a
melancholy dissoluteness of living,"
and feared that such evil "must provoke the Almighty God
to anger and vengeance." They
appointed two of their number, Christopher Layrle, of Mecklenburg
County, and Christopher
Rintelman, of Rowan, to seek aid among the Protestants of England,
Holland, and Germany for
securing and supporting a minister and school- master who spoke
the German tongue. The Rev.
Mr. Drage, the Episcopal minister of St. Luke's Parish, pronounced
20 Col. Rec., VIII, 744, 759; Bernheim, 244-845 ; Rumple,
21 Col. Rec., VIII, 758-759.
22 Bernheim, 284. A Colonial History of Rowan County 45
laudable, and Governor Tryon countenanced their plans and
referred their requests to the Bishop
of London and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in
Foreign Parts. The undertaking
met with the approval of the Society at its meeting in London,
July 19, 1771. The Society
promised that if Layrle and Rintelman raised such a sum as would
afford a reasonable prospect of
establishing a fund adequate for the permanent support of a minister
and schoolmaster, it would
contribute to the subscription and give other encouragement to
Rintelman and Layrle went to Europe in 1772. They first went
to London and then to Hanover,
and through the kind efforts of "the late Consistory Counselor,
Gotten," obtained the Rev.
Adolph Nussman as their pastor and Mr. Gottfried Ardnt as schoolmaster.
Nussman and Ardnt
arrived in North Carolina in 1173.24 Among those who contributed
to the fund which enabled
the Germans to secure their minister and schoolmaster were the
Bishop of London, the Earl of
Dartmouth, the Earl of Granville, the Archbishop of Canterbury,
and Governor Tryon.25
The Rev. Adolph Nussman was a man of scholarly attainments and
a devout, self-sacrificing and
pious Christian.26 He preached for a year to the combined congregation
of Reformed and
Lutheran members at the Hickory Church. Dissensions arising between
the two denominations,
they separated. The Lutherans built what is still known as the
Organ Church, but what was
formerly called Zion's. The adherents of the Reformed Church
erected a structure four miles
west of Gold Hill, in south Rowan. This church was named Grace
Church, though it is
frequently called Lower Stone Church. The site of the building
was purchased from Lorentz
Lingle.27 At the same time the Rev. Adolph Nussman was ministering
to the people of the
Second Creek settlement, he preached at St. John's in Salisbury.
Before Organ Church was
finished he left Rowan and went to St. John's Church in Mecklenburg.
In 1775 Gottfried Arndt,
who had been instructing the German youth,
23 Col. Rec., VIII, 630-631.
24 Col. Rec., VIII. 762-763 ; Bernheim, 256-257.
25 Col. Rec., VIII, 632.
26 Col. Rec., VIII, 759.
27 Col. Rec., VIII, 744, 760.46 James Sprunt Historical Publications
was ordained a minister of the Lutheran Church, and he served
Organ and St. John's churches
until the close of the Revolution.28
THE BAPTISTS IN ROWAN
Information as to the Baptists in early Rowan is very meagre.
When the Rev. Hugh McAden
passed through this section in 1755 he found a meeting house
in the Jersey Settlement. There
was much confusion in the congregation, many of whom were Baptists
and several professing to
be Presbyterians. One cause of the trouble arose from the labors
of a Mr. Miller, a Baptist
minister.29With the aid of a Bev. Mr, Gano, Miller established
a Baptist Church in the Jersey
About the year 1755 Shubal Steams came to eastern Rowan, now
Randolph, and in a few years
had a church on Sandy Creek with a membership of 606 persons.
At the same time Daniel Mar-
shall had charge of a Baptist Church on the Uwharrie, and Joseph
Murphey was minister to a
congregation on Deep Creek in the present county of Surry. Dr.
Caruthers says that other Baptist
ministers went about preaching from place to place, and that
there was a church on Abbott's
Creek, and others elsewhere.31
Dr. Rumple says that there was no organization of Methodism in
the county before the
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND IN ROWAN
The royal government of the province attempted to make the
Church of England the established
church of North Carolina. Many acts were passed with this end
in view. We have already seen
that St. Luke's Parish was established simultaneously with Rowan
County and included the same
territory until Wachovia was set off under the name of Dobbs
Parish. The freeholders, that is,
men owning fifty acres of land or a lot in some town, were required,
under penalty of twenty
shillings, to elect twelve vestrymen to serve three years. The
vestrymen so elected had to
subscribe an oath that they would "not oppose the doctrine,
28 Col. Rec., VIII, 759, 760, 763; Bernheim, 260-261.
29 Foote, 167.
30 Rumple, 445.
31 Caruthers, 91.
32 Rumple, 367. A Colonial History of Rowan County 47
and liturgy of the Church of England as by law established."
If a dissenter was elected and failed
to qualify, he was liable to a fine. The vestry was authorized
to levy a tax of ten shillings on
each. taxable in the parish for the erection of churches or chapels,
the payment of the salaries of
ministers, the purchasing a glebe for the building of a parsonage.
According to an act of 1765, the minister of a parish was to
receive an annual salary of one
hundred and thirty-three pounds, six shillings and eight pence
and a fee of twenty shillings for
every marriage solemnized in the parish, whether he performed
the service or not, provided he
did not neglect nor refuse to do so.33 The inhabitants of the
west paid little attention to the vestry
and parish laws.
By the marriage acts of the province no minister or magistrate
could perform the rite of marriage
without a license or the publication of banns. The parish minister,
if there were one, should be
entitled to the marriage fee unless he refused or neglected to
perform the ceremony. The
Presbyterian ministers in the west performed the marriage service
without license or publication
of banns. An act passed early in Tryon's administration made
all such marriages valid and
permitted Presbyterian ministers, regularly called to any congregation,
to celebrate the rite of
marriage when a license was issued. By a law of 1770 the ministers
of the same denomination
were authorized to perform the service by the publication of
banns, but the law was disallowed
by the authorities in England.34
The marriage and vestry acts were extremely unpopular in the
west. Petitions were presented to
the Assembly asking their repeal. One from Mecklenburg states
that if Rowan, Mecklenburg,
and Tryon counties "were wholly relieved from the grievances
of the marriage act and the vestry
acts, it would greatly encourage the settlement of the frontiers,
and make them a strong barrier to
the interior parts of the province against a savage enemy.35
Little is known of the early
clergymen of the Church of England. Upon the petition of the
people of Rowan, a Mr. Miller
33 Ashe, 385; Rumple, 72-74.
34 Ashe, 382-386.
35 Col. Rec., X, 1016.48 James Sprunt Historical Publications
was ordained minister. He lived irregularly and wandered about
from parish to parish. It is not
known that he settled in, Rowan.36 In 1766, Tryon wrote the Board
of Trade that the Rev. Mr.
Micklejohn had just gone to St. Luke's.37 Nothing further is
recorded of him.
No attempt was made to put the parish and vestry laws into force
in Rowan until about 1770.
Some time prior to that date more than one hundred inhabitants
of the county petitioned for a
There seems to have been a number of members of the Church of
England in Rowan, though they
did not make up any considerable part of the population. They
were principally found in
Salisbury and the Jersey Settlement.39 It is impossible to estimate
the number with any degree
of accuracy. The late Hon. John S. Henderson, in his interesting
sketch on "Episcopacy in
Rowan" in Rumple's history, thinks that they amounted to
one-fourth or one-third of the entire
population.40 This estimate, however, is undoubtedly too large
if applied to the whole of
The first clergyman of the Church of England who settled in Rowan
was the Rev. Theodorus
Swaine Drage, who came to the county about 1769 and attempted
to organize St. Luke's Parish
on a permanent basis. He was successful in having a chapel erected
in the Jersey Settlement.41
His letter to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in
Foreign Parts portrays the situation
in Rowan. Tryon had received repeated applications from the people
for a clergyman, and he
was largely responsible for Drage's going to St. Luke's. Drage
claimed that two-thirds of the
population were of the Church of England, but his statements
are not borne out by other records.
The "Irish Dissenters" had the power of government
vested in their hands, for they had titles to
their lands. Many of the other settlers had come into the county
since the closing of the land
offices and had been unable to secure titles to the lands which
36 Col. Rec., VI, 1040.
37 Col. Rec., VII, 260.
38 Williamson, 258.
39 Rumple, 70.
40 Rumple, 383.
41 Rumple, 384. A Colonial History of Rowan County 49
Mr. Drage was very active in his labors. Upon his arrival
he found the English churchmen
"disheartened and dispersed," but soon he had forty
preaching places where he ministered to
"seven thousand souls, men, women, and children." Between
December 20, 1769, and the same
date in 1770, he baptized eight hundred and two persons. Their
ages varied from less than a year
to sixty years, the majority being infants. A Rev. Mr. Cupples
had paid a visit to St. Luke's
during the preceding summer and baptized many.
Mr. Drage's efforts to establish the parish on a legal and permanent
foundation were less fruitful.
At an election held Easter Monday, 1770, the Dissenters, having
control of a majority of the
votes, elected a vestry, all of whom were Dissenters and two
of whom were elders. The vestry
refused to qualify. The same procedure had been practiced in
the preceding year. The voters
declared that "their purpose in voting was not as to who
should compose the vestry, but that there
might be none." The members of the Church of England petitioned
for a removal of their
incapacity to vote for want of deeds, but the Assembly did not
grant their request. Mr. Drage
considered a petition of the Presbyterians praying that they
might be relieved from paying
towards the support of the parish minister and that their clergy
might be permitted to perform
marriages by the publication of banns as "an act directly
leveled at the Constitution."42 In theory
he was right. The mistake, however, was in striving to thrust
an established church upon an
unwilling and headstrong people.
The contest between Drage and the Dissenters continued to grow
warm. The unfortunate
clergyman seems to have received no salary and to have been dependent
upon a few fees and the
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts for
his support. He found friends only
in the Lutherans and in Governor Tryon.43 He informed Governor
Martin, Tryon's successor,
that the clerk of court encouraged the people who obtained marriage
licenses to have the rites
performed by the magistrates in preference to him, and concealed
the number of licenses granted
42 Col Rec., VIII, 602-504.
43 Col. Rec., VIII, 506-607.50 James Sprunt Historical Publications
order to deprive him of the fees to which the parish minister
was entitled.44 By February, 1773,
the Dissenters succeeded in expelling Drage by withholding his
salary and thereby forcing him to
leave the parish.45 No other clergyman of the English church
appeared in Rowan before the
EDUCATION IN ROWAN
The record of education and the early schools of Rowan is
very meagre. Most of the inhabitants
possessed at least an elementary knowledge of reading, writing
and the principles of
mathematics. The Germans had Luther's translation of the Bible
and their Union Hymn Book. At
this time the old field schools were established and taught by
citizens who had better educations
than the average. There must have been a number of these schools
in old Rowan. The boys
spent their leisure hours in playing "town-ball," "bull-pen,"
"cat" and "prisoner's base," and
the girls amused themselves with "blind-man's bluff,"
"drop-the-handker-chief," "fox and geese,"
and "chichama-chichama -craney-crow." Dr. Rumple says:
"The passing traveler could easily
identify the log schoolhouse, by the bell-like tones of the mingled
voices of the boys and girls as
they studied their spelling and reading lessons aloud sometimes
rendering the schoolroom a very
Babel of con- fused sounds."l
In 1760, Crowfield Academy was established on the headwaters
of Rocky River, in the bounds of
the Centre congregation, about two miles north of where Davidson
College now stands. This
was a classical school where many of the prominent men of Rowan
and the near-by counties
were educated. Among them were Colonel Adlai Osborne, the Rev.
Samuel Eusebius McCorkle,
Dr. James Hall, and Dr. Ephriam Brevard.2
44 Col. Rec.. IX, 267.
45 Col. Rec., IX, 507, 622.
1 Rumple, 83-84.
2 Rumple, 84. A Colonial History of Rowan County 51
About the year 1767 Dr. David Caldwell founded his famous
classical "Log College" on the
headwaters of North Buffalo, near the present city of Greensboro.3
In 1773, Gttfried Arndt arrived, and for several years
instructed the German youth around
The inhabitants of Western North Carolina before the Revolution
were dependent upon the old
field schools and a few classical academies, such as Caldwell's
and Crowfield, for their
education. Those who were able often completed their schooling
at Nassau Hall (now Princeton
University) under Dr. John Witherspoon."
THE SAFETY COMMITTEE
Rowan County has the distinction of being the first county
in North Carolina to organize a safety
committee.1 This fact shows that the people were keenly alive
to the cause of the colonies. The
first committee met August 8, 1774. Its members were James McCay,
Andrew Neal, George
Cathey, Alexander Dobbins, Francis McCorkle, Matthew Locke, Maxwell
Harmon, Abraham Denton, William Davidson, Samuel Young, John
Brevard, William Kennon,
George Henry Barringer, Robert Bell, John Bickerstaff, John Cowden,
John Lewis Beard, John
Nesbit, Charles McDowell, Robert Blackburn, Christopher Beekman,
William Sharpe, John
Johnston, and Morgan Bryan.2 The records of the Rowan Committee
of Safety have been
preserved in Wheeler's "History of North Carolina"
and in the Colonial Records and they give an
insight into the opinions and purposes of the times. Though this
committee began its
administration before the Revolution its actions belong to the
Revolutionary period, and will not
be discussed in this sketch.
3 Caruthers, 30-31.
4 Bernheim, 260-261.
5 Rumple, 84-85.
6 Col. Rec., IX, xxxii.
7 Col. Rec., IX, 1024-1026; Rumple, 147.52 James Sprunt Historical
SOCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL CONDITIONS
The inhabitants of Rowan and the other western counties lived
among surroundings quite
different from those who dwelt in the east. While the latter
passed a life of ease and gayety on
their large plantations with numerous African slaves, the former
felled the forests and built
homes on the fertile and pleasant lands lying along the countless
streams which watered the
country. The Indians who lived beyond the mountains were a constant
source of alarm. The
woods teemed with game. As is the case in all frontier communities,
the sterner and stronger
qualities of men predominated.
Slave labor was introduced into the territory embraced by Rowan
County before it was taken
from Anson. The list of taxables for Rowan for the year after
its establishment indicate that there
were then fifty-four black taxables in the county.1 As after
this date the white and black taxables
were not listed separately, there is no means of determining
the number of slaves owned by the
inhabitants, No doubt many others were brought in, but slavery
did not assume such large
proportions in Rowan as it did in the eastern counties.
Practically all of the people derived their living from the soil.
In the summer of 1755 Governor
Dobbs visited the west in order to inspect his lands on Rocky
River. Along the Yadkin he found
fields of barley, wheat, rye, and oats.2 Continuing his course
to Rocky River, he visited between
thirty and forty of the families situated on his lands. These
people were prolific, there being from
five to ten children in each family. The settlers raised horses,
cows, hogs, and sheep, and planted
Indian corn. They made butter and cheese and had "made good
success with indigo."3 There
were no stock-laws in those days. The cattle were branded by
their owners and allowed to roam
at large.4 There is
1 Col. Rec., V, 575.
2 Col. Rec., V, 355.
3 Ashe, 289-290.
4 Rumple, 39-41. A Colonial History of Rowan County 53
record that the Moravians cultivated cotton and tobacco in
addition to grains and vegetables.5
Wild animals proved a great inconvenience to the frontier agriculturists.
were offered to all persons who killed a wolf or a wild cat or
a panther within ten miles of any
settled plantation.6 In 1767, an act was passed requiring every
master or mistress of a plantation,
or the overseer in case the owner did not reside in the county,
to kill or cause to be killed every
year seven crows or squirrels for each taxable under his or her
control. Failure to do so was
penalized by a fine of four pence for each crow or squirrel less
than the required number, while
those who killed more than were required were entitled to receive
a bounty of four pence for each
in excess of the requisite number."
The rates charged by the tavern keepers of Salisbury may be of
interest. In 1755, the inferior
court fixed the following rates for keepers of ordinaries:
For dinner of roast or boiled flesh, 1 shilling.
For supper and breakfast, each, 6 pence.
For lodging one night, good bed, 2 pence.
For stablage (24 hours) with good hay or fodder, 6 pence.
For pasturage first 24 hours, 4 pence.
For every 24 hours thereafter, 2 pence.
For Indian corn and other grain per quart, 2 pence.8
The people of Rowan and the other sections of the west were much
more closely connected with
Charleston commercially than with the coast towns of North Carolina,
for it was to the South
Carolina port that they sent their produce. In 1762, provision
was made by the Assembly for
building Campbelton on the Cape Fear River. It was thought that
this town would be the means
of bringing the trade which enriched the merchants of Charleston
to the coast of North Carolina."
As this step failed to accomplish the desired end, a committee
was appointed to lay out a road
from the frontiers to Wilmington.10 The committee having failed
to act, in 1771 a commission
was selected to plot a road from Meck-
5 Clewell, 24.
6 State Rec., XXIII, 784-785, 862, 971.
7 State Rec., XXV, 510-511.
8 Rumple, 41.
9 State Rec., XXV, 470.
10 State Rec., XXIII, 753-754.54 James Sprunt Historical Publications
lenburg courthouse and from Salisbury the "nearest and
best way" to Campbelton." The plan was
not carried out by the committee, and the west continued its
commerce with the merchants of
The people of the west had great difficulty in communicating
with one another for want of
roads.12 Such roads as existed were far from being in a state
Practically all of the manufactured commodities were made in
the home. Tompkins, in his
"History of Mecklenburg County," says: "The people
made their own hats and shoes, and wove
their own cloth. They were hatters and shoemakers and weavers
and tailors. They raised indigo
for dyeing. They raised flax and made it into linen."13
Though this statement is made primarily
of the people of Mecklenburg County, it applies with equal truth
to those of Rowan.
Colonial Records of North Carolina,
State Records of North Carolina.
Ashe, S. A.: History of North Carolina.
Bernheim: History of the German Settlements and the Lutheran
Church in North and South
Caruthers, E. W.: Life of David Caldwell.
Clewell, J. H.: History of Wachovia.
Foote, W. H.: Sketches of North Carolina.
Fries, W. H.: Forsyth County.
Handbook of North Carolina (1886).
Haywood, M. DeL,: Governor William Tryon.
Hulme, E. M.: The Renaissance and Reformation.
Hunter, C. L.: Sketches of Western North Carolina.
Lawson, J.: History of North Carolina.
Martin, F. X.: History of North Carolina.
North Carolina Manual (1913).
Raper, C. L.; North Carolina A Study in English Colonial Government.
Tompkins, D. A.: A History of Mecklenburg County.
Rumple, J.: History of Rowan County.
Weeks, S. B.: Southern Quakers and Slavery.
Willlamson, H,: A History of North Carolina,
Waddell, H: A Colonial Officer.
11 State Rec., XXIII, 870-871.
12 Col. Rec., VII, 354.
13 Tompkins, 22-23.