Rowan County, North Carolina
         
   

   

Year Established

County Seat

Population (2010)

1753

Salisbury

138,428
 

First Settled

First Settled By

Significance of County Name

1740s

Germans, Scots-Irish from Pennsylvania

Matthew Rowan
 

Other Significant Towns:

Landis

Cleveland

Woodleaf

Pooletown

Rockwell

Barber

China Grove

Franklin

Click Here - To see how Rowan County evolved each decade - includes all the known towns and villages.

Click Here - To see the known battles/skirmishes in Rowan County during the US Revolution.

A History of Rowan County

 

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 County.


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 District.
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 OF
ROWAN COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA

CHAPTER I

DESCRIPTION OF ROWAN COUNTY

The heirs of the eight nobleman to whom Charles II had granted Carolina
in 1663 found that vast territory an unprofitable and unruly charge. In
1728, therefore, the owners of seven of the eight equal undivided shares
offered to sell all their interest in Carolina to the Crown, and the
proposition was accepted. In the following year the purchase was
completed, the seven proprietors who surrendered their claims receiving
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 share.1
In 1744, his part of Carolina was set off for him by grant from George
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. The eastern
boundary of this immense tract was the Atlantic Ocean and the western, the
Mississippi River.2 At this time the portion of this grant west of the
present eastern boundaries of Randolph, Guilford, and Rockingham counties
was just being entered by enterprising settlers. It is with the region
west of the above-mentioned boundary lines that this sketch is to deal.
This region embraced the northern part of two of the three great natural
divisions of North Carolina Piedmont section and the Mountain section.
The part included in the Piedmont is blessed by nature with countless
streams and an endless succession of hills and valleys which increase as
one goes westward. Its climate is invigorating and wholesome. The soil is
very fertile, especially along the banks of the rivers and creeks. The
earth contains great mineral wealth in the form of coal, iron, gold, and
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, the
persimmon, the black walnut, the yellow pine, and the mulberry. Most of
what has been said of the Piedmont district is also applicable to the
Mountain division. The Blue-Ridge Mountains a portion of the Appalachian
Range lie partly within its borders. Here the wild cherry, the white
pine, the hemlock, the black birch, the white walnut, the chestnut, the
beech, the locust, and many other trees grow. The mineral resources of
this section arc more abundant than those of the Piedmont. The Mountain
region is above all else a land of health and beauty.3 The earliest
visitor to this territory who recorded anything was John Lawson, the
Surveyor-General of the Province of North Carolina. In December, 1700,
accompanied by several other Englishmen and Indian guides, he left
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 and the
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. A man
near Sapona (the Yadkin) may more easily clear ten acres of ground than
in some places he can one; there being much loose stone upon the land,
lying very convenient for making of dry walls or any other sort of durable
fence. The country abounds likewise with curious, bold creeks, navigable
for small craft, disgorging themselves into the main rivers that vent
them- selves into the ocean. These creeks are well stored with sundry
sorts of fish and fowl, and are very convenient for the transportation of
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." Fine bladed
grass, six feet high, grew along the creeks, and the sepulchres of dead
In-

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 located in.
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 Trading
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 Path
which traders from Virginia traveled at an early date in going to the
Catawbas and other southern Indians.7 Lawson was delighted with the scenes
around the Yadkin. He says: "This most pleasant river may be something
broader than the Thames at Kingston, keeping a continual warbling noise,
with its reverberating on the bright marble rocks. . . . One side of
the river is hemmed in with mountainy ground, the other side proving as
rich a soil as any this western world can afford.8 A numerous train of
swan and other water fowl were on the stream and many small birds sang upon
its banks.9 The travelers were entertained by the old king of the
Saponas, who proved very friendly to the white men. Neighboring tribes of
Indians were the Toteros, who inhabited the "westward mountains," and the
Keyauwees, who dwelt in a village about forty miles west of Trading Ford.
These three nations were small, and at that time were planning to combine
in order to strengthen themselves and become formidable to their enemies.
About ten days before Lawson's arrival among them the Saponas captured
five northern Indians. Indians from the north ranged over the country
and were a terror to the less warlike tribes of the south. The Saponas
were preparing to put. the captives to death with cruel torture, but
released them upon the request of the Toteros, some of whom, when taken
prisoners by the northern Indians a short time before, had been kindly
treated and permitted to return to their own people.10 The old king of
the Saponas took much pride in several horses which he owned. Lawson was
highly pleased with the country. Every step, he declared, presented some
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 of the
Yadkin. During the stay of the explorers at Sapona town a party of the
Toteros, "tall, likely men," came down from the west "having great plenty
of buffaloes, elks, and bears with other sort of deer amongst them." One
of the Indian doctors acquainted Lawson with a large quantity of
medicines that were produced in those parts.11 After remaining several
days at Sapona Lawson's party made a two days trip to the westward.
The country became more mountainous and many streams were crossed. At a
distance of some thirty or forty miles west of the Yadkin they reached the
town of the Keyauwees, situated five miles northwest of a rocky river
called the Heighwaree. Near the town was another stream. The land was
"more mountainous, but extremely pleasant and an excellent place for the
breeding (of) sheep, goats, and horses or mules," The valleys were very
fertile. The village of the Keyauwees was encircled by high mountains, and
large cornfields adjoined the cabins of the savages. No grass grew upon
the high cliffs and the growth of trees upon them was sparse. The earth
in this region was of a reddish color, which Lawson said signfied (sic)
the presence of minerals. The Keyauwees received the travelers with
hospitality, Lawson lodged at the house of Keyauwees Jack, a Congaree
Indian, who had obtained the chieftainship through marriage with the
queen, for among the Indians descent was counted on the female side. The
Keyauwees were unique in that most of them wore mustaches or whiskers a
habit rarely practiced by Indians.l2 Two or three days were spent with
the Keyauwees. Most of the members of Lawson's party desired to go
straightway to Virginia, but he was determined to continue his course to
the coast of North Carolina. He and one companion, therefore, bade
farewell to the rest of the group. On the third day's journey, after
passing over many waters and through rich lands, they reached the Haw
River, whence they made their way to the coast of the province.13 Lawson
did not penetrate the wilderness as far westward as the Catawba nation.
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 destruction
with them. The Saponas, Keyauwees, and Toteros combined with several
small tribes and removed to Virginia soon after Lawson's departure. After
dwelling in Virginia, a few miles north of the Roanoke, for twenty-five years,
they returned to Carolina and lived with the Catawbas.l4

 

CHAPTER II

THE SETTLEMENTS AND BOUNDARIES OF ROWAN COUNTY

The exact date of the appearance of settlers in Rowan County cannot be
determined. We have already seen that long before the cabin of a
permanent settler was erected traders from Virginia frequented the region
in order to barter with the Indians. The chief contributors to the population
were the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians from the north of Ireland, the
Germans, usually known as Pennsylvania Dutch, who adhered to the tenets of
the Lutheran and German Reformed Churches, and the Moravians, or United
Brethren, from Moravia and Bohemia. From time to time men belonging to no
one of these groups came to the frontier, but such settlers formed a
small part of the total number of inhabitants. The Scotch-Irish were the
most active and probably the most numerous part of the population. These
people were Scotch in blood, being descendants of the Scotch whom the
English rulers had placed on the confiscated lands of Irish rebels in the
Province of Ulster, in north Ireland, during the seventeenth century. To
distinguish them from the natives of Scotland they have received the name
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 imposed upon
them because they were not members of the established church of Ireland;
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 which land
could he obtained in America was a third powerful incentive to their
coming hither.3 Some came to Charleston and pushed into the frontier
country from that place, but most of them landed in Pennsylvania and,
after making some settlements in that. province, turned southward, and by
1739 located in the Valley of Virginia.4 The administration in Virginia
was constantly opposed to religious freedom. Earl Granville disposed of
his lands in Carolina upon favorable terms, for he desired to increase
their value by rapid settlement.5 Therefore, influenced by the inviting
nature of the climate and soil, the peacefulness of the Catawba Indians
and the laxity of North Carolina laws in comparison with those of Virginia
on the subject of religion, the Scotch-Irish passed through the vacant
lands in Virginia, in the neighborhood of their countrymen, and made homes
for themselves in western North Carolina. As early as 1740 a few families
were located on the Hico, Eno, and Haw rivers in the territory just east
of Rowan.6 By the year 1745 the Scotch-Irish had established themselves
in the fertile and well-watered area between the Yadkin and the Catawba,
and previous to 1750 their settlements were scattered throughout the
region from Virginia to Georgia.7 The Scotch-Irish settled mainly in the
country west of the Yadkin. Among these immigrants were the Nesbits,
Allisons, Brandons, Luckeys, Lockes, McCullochs, Grahams, Cowans, Barrs,
McKenzies, Andrews, Osbornes, Sharpes, Boones, MeLauchlins, and Halls.8


The Scotch-Irish have ever been known as a religious, brave, and
liberty-loving people. Among other families from the British Isles who
appeared in Rowan at an early date we find the names of Cathey, McCorkle,
Morrison, Linville, Davidson, Reese, Hughes, Ramsay, Brevard, Winslow,
Dickey, Braley, Moore, Emerson, Kerr, Rankin, Torrence, Templeton,
Houston, Hackett, Rutherford, Lynn, Gibson, Frohock, Smith, Bryan,
Little, Long, Steele, Bell, Macay, Miller, Blackburn, Craige, Stokes,
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 the
Germans who had previously located in Pennsylvania. The route which the
German and Scotch-Irish settlers took in making the overland journey from
Pennsylvania to western North Carolina is described by Colonel Saunders as
follows:

On Jeffrey's map, a copy of which is in the Congressional Library at
Washington City, there is plainly laid down a road called "the Great Road
from the Yadkin River through Virginia to Philadelphia, distant 435
miles." It ran from Philadelphia through Lancaster and York to
Winchester, thence up the Shenandoah Valley, crossing the Fluvanna River
to Looney's Ferry, thence to Staunton River, and down the river through
the Blue Ridge, thence southward, crossing Dan River below the mouth of
Mayo River, thence still southward near the Moravian settlement to the
Yadkin River, just above the mouth of Linville Creek and about ten miles
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 habits
and formed a valuable part of the population. As the laws were written
and expounded in English and all public business was transacted in that
language, the Germans were incapable, in most instances, of participating
in public affairs.l0 The process whereby they were naturalized was the
taking of several oaths prescribed by law and the repeating and
subscribing of the test. The test, as entered on the court records of
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 the
elements of bread and wine at or after the consecration thereof by any
person whatsoever.11

Among the early German settlers appear the names of Bernhardt, Heilig,
Meisenheimer, Beard, Mull, Rintelman (Rendleman), Layrle (Lyerly), Kuhn
(Coon), Friese, Eisenhauer, Suther, Winecoff, Cress, Walcher, Harkey,
Savitz, Henkel, Moser, Braun (Brown), Lingle, Fisher, Berger, Lippard,
Peeler, Holtzhauer, Kluttz, Roseman, Foet, Shupping, Beam, and Buin.

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 further east
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 into
the province daily, mostly from Pennsylvania and other parts of America,
but some from Europe. Many thousands had then come in and settled mainly
in the west so that they had almost reached the mountains. In 1746
Matthew Rowan estimated that there were not more than one hundred fighting
men in the entire western part of the province between Virginia and South
Carolina. Seven years later he thought that there were then at least
three thousand fighting men in the same territory, and stated that their
numbers were increasing rapidly. These settlers were for the most part
"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 and German
communities, scattered throughout the wilderness, and maintaining their
own customs, speech, and characteristics, and largely transmitting them to
posterity.14 About 1750, Quakers from the north located at New Garden, in
what is now Guilford County, and from time to time were joined by others
of that sect so that a distinctly Quaker settlement was formed there.15


The bitter persecutions which they suffered in their native lands of
Moravia and Bohemia for the sake of their religion and the desire to
preach "the pure gospel of love" to the inhabitants of America and to
preach to the Indians prompted the Moravians to seek homes in the western
world. The Moravians were well known for their thrift and industry, and
Earl Granville, who desired to people his grant in North Carolina with
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 North
Carolina. Leaving Edenton in September, on November 12th. he camped on
the Catawba near what he called the "Indian Pass." The nearest cabin was
that of Jonathan Weiss, or Perrot, a hunter, twenty miles distant. The
bishop found a number of hunters in the vicinity who lived like Indians
and secured furs and skins for sale. A week later he was near Quaker
Meadows, about two miles from where the town of Morganton now stands,
which he considered to be fifty miles beyond the settlements. Bands
of Cherokees pursuing game filled the woods. Continuing his course
northward, he found remains which indicated that Indians had inhabited the
country in earlier times.17 It being in the beginning of winter and his
guide mistaking the way, Spangenberg's party entered the mountains where
they endured great hardships and difficulties owing to the severity of the
weather. Happening upon a branch of New River, they followed that stream
to within fifteen miles of the Virginia line. Then, with the aid of a
compass, they traveled directly southeast through the wilderness and
finally reached the Yadkin River, after having been lost in the Blue
Ridge Mountains for two weeks. Here a few miles from the present town of
Wilkesboro they rested with a Welshman named Owen, who had built his cabin
far from the settlements. Spangenberg understood that there was no other
habitation within sixty miles.18 On December 27, the bishop reached the
site of Wachovia, on Muddy Creek, in the present county of Forsyth. He
surveyed about 73,000 acres of land. Spangenberg's Journal says "the
most of this land is level and plain, the air fresh and healthy, and the
water good."19 More land was afterwards added, so that in August, 1753,
Earl Granville conveyed 98,985 acres to the Moravians.20The grant received
the name of the "Wachovia Tract" in honor of one of the titles
of Count Zinzendorf, a leader of the Moravian Church of Austria.21
On April 3, 1753, a petition bearing the signatures of 348 of the
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 Carolina,
was read in the lower house of the General Assembly. The petitioners set
forth the great difficulties they had to undergo in traveling the vast
distance to the courthouse of Anson County and prayed that the frontier
section of the county be erected into a new one.22 Two days later Mr. Sampson
introduced a bill to this effect, and the bill in its final form received
the assent of Matthew Rowan, the acting governor, on April 12th.23 The
section of the act defining the boundaries of the new county, which was
named in honor of Matthew Rowan, read as follows:

Be it enacted . . . that Anson County be divided by a line, to begin
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 be
bounded to the north by the Virginia line, and to the south by the
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 parish, by
the name of Rowan County and St. Luke's Parish; and that all the
inhabitants of the westward of the said line, and included within the
before-mentioned boundaries, shall belong and appertain to Rowan County.

The design was to include in Rowan all that part of Anson which lay
within. Earl Granville's tract, that is, all north of latitude 35ø34' as
far north as the Virginia line. As near as can be determined, the eastern
boundary of the new county was a line running north and south along the
eastern boundaries of the present counties of Randolph, Guilford, and
Rockingham. The southern boundary line, beginning at the southeast corner
of Randolph, ran due west along Earl Granville's line, on the south side
of Randolph, Davidson, Rowan, and Iredell, as they now exist, to the
Catawba River a short distance above Beattie's Ford, thence due west,
cutting into Lincoln County and running a few miles north of Lincolnton,
through Cleveland and Rutherford, through Hickory Nut Gap, and on through
Buncombe, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Cherokee, and on to the westward
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 moun-

22 Col. Rec., V, 59.60.
23 Col. Rec., Y, 53.
24 State Rec., XXIII, 390. A Colonial History of Rowan County 15

tains was unknown and the French territory of Louisiana practically made
the Mississippi River the western limit.25 In 1754, the act to establish
Rowan County was revoked by George II simultaneously with the acts
establishing Orange and Cumberland, which had been passed a short time
before. Arthur Dobbs, the newly arrived governor, in a letter to the
Board of Trade, dated November 9, 1754, recommended that such be done.26
The reasons assigned for the revocation of these acts are that the General
Assembly had begun to exercise more authority than was entirely agreeable
to the royal government in England, and by the establishment of new
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 were
reestablished with the same boundaries and limits as formerly, and all deeds
and conveyances of land made during the period of the revocation were
declared valid.29 Salisbury had already been selected as the county-seat
of Rowan and a village had commenced to grow up there.30 In the autumn of
the year in which the Wachovia Tract was conveyed to the Moravians the first
colonists, twelve unmarried Brethren, came overland from Bethlehem,
Pennsylvania, where a strong Moravian settlement existed, and founded
Bethabara. The group consisted of the Rev. Bernhard Adam Grube, the
pastor, Jacob Loesch (Lash), the warden or business manager, Dr. Hans
Martin Kalberlahn, a physician, Hans Peterson, a tailor, Christopher
Merkly, a baker, Herman Loesch (Lash), a farmer, Erich Ingebretsen, a
carpenter, Johannes Lisher, a farmer, Henrich Feldhausen, a carpenter,
Jacob Lung, a gardener, Friedrich Jacob Pfeil, a shoemaker and tanner, and
Jacob Beroth, a farmer.31 The zeal with which the Moravians labored in
their new home is best described by Dr. Clewell.

During the first year not less than fifty acres of land had been pre-
pared for farming purposes. They recognized that, in this sparsely set-

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 wheat,
corn, flax, millet, barley, oats, buckwheat, turnips, cotton and tobacco, in
addition to the garden vegetables. Fruit trees were planted and various
kinds of medicinal herbs. . . . Diversity of industries is said to be
the real test of the prosperity of a place. In 1754, with the great
strain of clearing land and building houses, we find the record of trade
commenced with their neighbors, and the notes indicate that they had in
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 County and
St. Luke's Parish, upon the request of the Moravians of Wachovia, the
Assembly passed an act creating Wachovia into a separate and distinct
parish with all the privileges and immunities which the other parishes of the
province enjoyed. The new parish was called Dobbs in honor of the
Governor.33 In 1759 eight married couples from Bethabara and
others founded Bethania, three miles northwest of Bethabara. Settlers
continued to come to Wachovia. In 1766 the settlement of Salem was
begun.34 A few years later Friedberg, which had gradually grown up in southern
Wachovia, and Friedland, in the southeast of the tract, which was partly
settled by Germans from Broad Bay in the present State of Maine, were
formally set off and recognized.35 The growth of Rowan in population was
continual and rapid from the beginning, except during the Indian wars of
1759-60, when the Cherokees devastated the outlying settlements. At that time
immigration almost ceased.36 The immigrants obtained titles to Earl
Granville's lands through his agents, Francis Corbin and James Innes.37
The land offices in his territory were closed at his death in 1763.38 The
offices remained closed until 1773, when Governor Josiah Martin was
appointed agent.39 In the confusion existent just before the Revolution
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 that no
titles to land could be obtained after 1763 settlers continued to move
into the Granville tract. Much discontent arose among the inhabitants,
some dreading the expected reopening of the land offices because of the
abuses of the agents, and others being displeased because they could not
obtain title to the lands improved by their efforts.40 It was during this
time that the Jersey Settlement on the east side of the Yadkin, some nine
miles from Salisbury, was made by settlers from New Jersey.41 Prior to
Granville's death the quarrel which had arisen between him and Henry
McCulloh was settled. Sixteen hundred square miles of land between the
Uwharrie and the Catawba had been set aside from Henry McCulloh, who had
received grants on the headwaters of the Neuse, Pee Dee, and Cape Fear
rivers from the Crown about the year 1736.42 As the land between the
Uwharrie and the Catawba lay within Earl Granville's territory a
disagreement as to ownership naturally resulted. The controversy was
concluded by a compact that McCulloh should become Granville's tenant, and
in lieu of all other rents, pay an annual sum of 400 pounds from 1757 until
1760, after which date he was to pay 4 shillings for every hundred acres
retained by him, but was to reconvey and surrender to Granville all lands
not then settled.43 About 1761 Henry E. McCulloh, his son, came to North
Carolina and began to dispose of his father's lands in Rowan for
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 thought
that North Carolina was being settled faster than any other province, and
that in the preceding autumn and winter about one thousand wagons with
families accompanying them passed through Salisbury.45 As the population
multiplied and settlements were made in the outlying parts of the county,
the inhabitants of communities distant from the seat of government began
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 the
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 part of
Rowan into a new county. These, however, failed to be enacted into law.46
In January, 1771, Griffith Rutherford, a member of the Assembly from
Rowan, introduced a bill for ascertaining the boundary line between Rowan
and the counties of Mecklenburg and Tryon, which lay to the south.47 This
measure was expedient because the settlers on the borders of the three
counties refused to pay their taxes in any of them. Lord Granville's
line had never been surveyed so far westward. Thomas Neal, Thomas Polk,
Matthew Locke, Griffith Rutherford, and Peter Johnston were appointed to
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 was passed
establishing Guilford County and Unity Parish in the region lying between
Salisbury and Hillsboro.49 (Guilford, which was named for Francis North,
Earl of Guilford, and father of Lord North, Prime Minister of George III
during the Revolution, was composed of territory taken from Rowan and Orange.
The portion taken from Rowan was that which now makes up the counties of
Guilford, Rockingham, and Randolph. John Pryor, Edmund Fanning, Alexander
Martin, Matthew Locke, John Dunn, Griffith Rutherford, and John Campbell
were appointed a committee with authority to run the lines and contract
with workmen for the building of the courthouse, prison, and stocks
for Guilford County.50 Another act passed by the same Assembly
established Surry County and St. Jude's Parish in the north of Rowan.51
Surry was named in honor of Lord Surrey, a prominent member of
Parliament who opposed the taxation of the American colonies by

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 because of
the too great extent of Rowan. He declared that the creation of Guilford
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 county.52
By the act of January, 1771, the boundary between Rowan and Surry began
at a point in the Guilford line forty-two miles north of the Granville
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 found
it more convenient to transact their business in and to attend the courts
of Surry County. Accordingly they petitioned the Assembly to pass a law
including the entire Wachovia Tract in Surry.54 Although it was asserted
that such alteration of the boundary would "greatly facilitate the
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 north of
the southeast corner of Rowan, and run west to the range separating the
waters of the Yadkin and Catawba rivers, and thence follow that ridge and the
mountains northward to the Virginia line. The boundary was parallel to
the southern line of the Granville grant save where the bounds of Wachovia
interfered, all of this tract being included in the county of Surry, and
Dobbs Parish being established separate and distinct from St. Jude's. A
committee was appointed to ascertain the boundaries and take charge of
the erection of the public buildings of Surry. Griffith Rutherford,
Anthony Hampton, John Braby, Robert Lanier, and Christian Ruiter were the
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 Sprunt
Historical Publications

public buildings was unfinished and a majority of the commissioners
resided in Rowan, a new commission composed of residents of Surry was
chosen by the Assembly.57 The attempts to establish a county in western
Rowan were unsuccessful, though Rutherford proposed bills for that purpose
in 1771 and 1773.58 By 1771 the western settlements had reached far into
the mountains. Many of the settlers lived more than one hundred miles from
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 kept
of the number of inhabitants were those computed in terms of the taxables.
A taxable was a white male above sixteen years of age or a negro or
mulatto slave of either sex above twelve years.60 The returns for 1754
show that the number of taxables in Rowan one year after its organization
were 1,170, 1,116 being whites and 54 blacks.61 Thirteen years later the
number of taxables had increased to 3,643.63 The population continued to
grow proportionately. The people of Rowan were sturdy, hardy,
industrious, brave and enterprising, and did their "bit" in laying
foundations for the new nation that was to be born in the western world.

 

CHAPTER III

COLONIAL SALISBURY

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 chose a
site for the public buildings of Rowan. and Edward Hughes was directed to
obtain a grant of forty acres from Earl Granville's agents for this
purpose. John Dunn and John Whitsett were appointed to see that the land
was laid off in a suitable manner, and the latter was awarded the contract
for

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 be of
framework, weatherboarded, thirty feet long and twenty wide, a story and a
half high, with two floors, the lower one raised two feet above the
ground. It was to be provided with an oval bar and a bench raised three
feet from the floor. There was to be a good window behind the bench,
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 dated
February 11, 1755. On that day William Churton and Richard Vigers,
Granville's agents, conveyed 635 acres of land for "Salisbury Township" to
James Carter and Hugh Foster, trustees for Rowan County. The land upon
which the public buildings had been erected was included in this tract.3


Salisbury received its name from Salisbury, England, on the banks of the
Avon River.4 Dr. Rumple says that the courthouse was not completed before
1756, although the jail, pillory, and stocks were finished and in use before
that date.5 Governor Dobbs, however, who passed through Salisbury in the
summer of the preceding year, found the town just laid out, the courthouse
built and seven or eight log houses erected.6 In 1755 and 1756 John Ryle,
John Lewis Beard, Peter Arrand, Jacob Francks, Archibald Craige, James
Bower, and Thomas Bashford and Robert Gillespie were licensed to conduct
ordinaries, or inns, in Salisbury.7 Among the other early residents of
the town appear James Alexander, who died there in 1754, John Dunn, an
Irishman, and an Oxford man, William Temple Cole, who conducted an inn,
and John and Thomas Frohock. As most of the settlers built their homes
where they could obtain large and fertile farms, the growth of Salisbury
was slow. In early times it was composed of the public buildings, the
residences of some of the county officials, a store or two, a hatter shop,
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 the Superior
Courts of the western counties were held.8 In 1766 Salisbury returned its
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 Salisbury."
The preamble stated that the town had "a healthy, pleasant situation,
well watered, and convenient for inland trade." It was enacted that the
county courts and the superior courts for the District of Salisbury and
all public elections should thenceforth he held at Salisbury. The
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 large.


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
woman.

8 Rumple, 61-63.
9 N. C. Manual (1913), 381. A Colonial History of Rowan County 23

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 Publications

The members in the Provincial Congresses were William Kennon (August, 1774), Hugh
Montgomery, and Robert Rowan (August, 1775), and David Nisbet (April, 1776).15

 

CHAPTER IV

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 25

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
continued.5


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,
whom

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
captain.17


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 to hostility.23


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
end.28


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 by Lieutenant-Colonel
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
Carolina.


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

 

CHAPTER V

THE COURTS AND OFFICIALS OF ROWAN COUNTY AND
SALISBURY DISTRICT

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 county.


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
1775.4


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:

ASSEMBLY

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 John Harrold.
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.

PROVINCIAL CONGRESSES

August, 1774. Moses Winslow and Samuel Young.
April, 1775. Griffith Rutherford, William Sharpe, and William Kennon.
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 Lanier.
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
practicing

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 35

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
Friday.23


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.

 

CHAPTER VI

THE REGULATORS

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
critical.


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
of

7 Col, Rec., VII, 115. 748.
8 Col. Rec., VII, xxii.
9 Col. Rec., VII, 886; Tompkins, 38.38 James Sprunt Historical Publications

Rowan County, and those voluntarily, were included in the compact.10


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
the County.11


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 following quotation:

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 sent

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
end.16


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 being pronounced.
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

 

CHAPTER VII

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 PRESBYTERIANS

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
Presbyterians."l


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 41

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 Catawba rivers."3


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
County.5


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 Greensboro.13


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
number of

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
Church.20
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 their purpose

20 Col. Rec., VIII, 744, 759; Bernheim, 244-845 ; Rumple, 437.
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 their efforts.23


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
Settlement.30


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
Revolution.32

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, discipline,

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
"lawful vestry."38


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
Rowan.


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 they occupied,

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
in

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
Revolution.

 

CHAPTER VIII

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, G”ttfried Arndt arrived, and for several years instructed the German youth around
Salisbury."
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."

 

CHAPTER IX

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 Chambers, Henry
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 Publications

 

CHAPTER X

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. Accordingly bounties
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
Charleston.
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 of perfection.
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.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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
Carolina.
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. 



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