Sketches of Western North Carolina, Historical and Biographical
Principally the Revolutionary Period of Mecklenburg, Rowan, Lincoln and Adjoining Counties

These are books that have been generously transcribed for us or are available in the public domain.

Title: Sketches of Western North Carolina, Historical and Biographical

Author: C. L. Hunter

Release Date: July 19, 2004


Illustrating Principally the Revolutionary Period of Mecklenburg,
Rowan, Lincoln and Adjoining Counties, Accompanied with Miscellaneous
Information, Much of It Never before Published







History has been defined, "Philosophy teaching by example." There is
no branch of literature in a republic like ours, that can be
cultivated with more advantage to the general reader than history.
From the infinite variety of aspects in which it presents the dealings
of Providence in the affairs of nations, and from the immense number
of characters and incidents which it brings into view, it becomes a
source of continuous interest and enjoyment.

The American Revolution is undoubtedly the most interesting event in
the pages of modern history. Changes equally great and convulsions
equally violent have often taken place in the Old World; and the
records of former times inform us of many instances of oppression,
which, urged beyond endurance, called forth the spirit of successful
resistance. But in the study of the event before us--the story of the
Revolution--we behold feeble colonies, almost without an army--without
a navy--without an established government--without a good supply of
the munitions of war, firmly and unitedly asserting their rights, and,
in their defence, stepping forth to meet in hostile array, the veteran
troops of a proud and powerful nation. We behold too, these colonies,
amidst want, poverty and misfortunes, animated with the spirit of
liberty and fortified by the rectitude of their cause, sustaining for
nearly eight years, the weight of a cruel conflict upon their own
soil. At length we behold them victorious; their enemies sullenly
retiring from their shores, and these feeble colonies enrolled on the
page of history as a _free, sovereign and independent nation_.

The American struggle for freedom, and its final achievement, was an
act in the great drama of the world's history of such vast magnitude,
and fraught with such momentous consequences upon the destinies of
civilization throughout the world, that we can scarcely ever tire in
contemplating the instrumentalities by which, under Divine guidance,
it was effected. It has taught mankind that oppression and misrule,
under any government, tends to weaken and ultimately destroy the power
of the oppressor; and that a people united in the cause of freedom and
their inalienable rights, are invincible by those who would enslave

No State in our Union can present a greater display of exalted
patriotism, enduring constancy and persistent bravery than North
Carolina. And yet, how many of our own people do we find who know but
little of the early history of the State, her stern opposition to
tyranny under every form, and her illustrious Revolutionary career.

On the shores of North Carolina the first settlement of English
colonists was made; within her borders the most formidable opposition
to British authority, anterior to the Revolution, was organized; by
her people the _first declaration_ of independence was proclaimed, and
some of the most brilliant achievements took place upon her own soil.

For several years, at intervals, the author has devoted a portion of
his time and attention to the collection of historical facts relating
principally to Western North Carolina, and bordering territory of
South Carolina, to whom, as a sister State, and having a community of
interests, North Carolina frequently afforded relief in her hour of
greatest need.

Such materials, procured at this late day--upon the arrival of our
National Centennial year, are often imperfect and fragmentary in
character--merely scattered facts and incidents gathered here and
there from the traditional recollections of our oldest inhabitants, or
from the musty records of our State and county offices; and yet, it is
believed such facts, when truthfully transmitted to us, are worthy of
preservation and rescue from the gulf of oblivion, which unfortunately
conceals from our view much valuable information.

Being the son of a Revolutionary patriot, and accustomed in his
boyhood to listen with enraptured delight to the narration of
thrilling battle-scenes, daring adventures, narrow escapes and feats
of personal prowess during the Revolution, all tending to make
indelible impressions upon the tablet of memory, the author feels a
willingness to "contribute his mite" to the store of accumulated
materials relating to North Carolina, now waiting to be moulded into
finished, historic shape by some one of her gifted sons.

Several of the sketches herein presented are original, and have never
before been published. Others, somewhat condensed, have been taken
from Wheeler's "Historical Sketches," when falling within the scope of
this work. To the venerable author of that compilation, the author
also acknowledges his indebtedness for valuable information furnished
from time to time from the "Pension Bureau" at Washington City,
relating to the military services of several of our Revolutionary

The author and compiler of these sketches only aspires to the position
of a historian in a limited sense. It cannot be denied that the
history of our good old State, modest in her pretensions, but filled
with grand, patriotic associations, has never been fully written.
Acting under this belief, he feels tempted to say, like Ruth following
the reapers in the time of Boaz, he has "gleaned in the field until
even," and having found a few "handfuls" of _neglected_ grain, and
beaten them out, here presents his "ephah of barley"--plain,
substantial food it is true, but yet may be made useful _mentally_ to
the present generation, as it was _physically_ of old, to the
inhabitants of Palestine.

In conclusion, the author cherishes the hope that other sons, and
daughters too, of North Carolina--some of them forming with himself,
_connecting links of the past with the present_--will also become
_gleaners_ in the same field of research, abounding yet with scattered
grains of neglected and unwritten history worthy of preservation.

If the author's efforts in this direction shall impart additional
information, and assist in elucidating "liberty's story" in the Old
North State, his highest aspirations will be gratified, and his
agreeable labors amply rewarded.






The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence--A brief account of the
Mecklenburg Centennial--The Grand Procession--Exercises at the Fair
Grounds--James Belk, A Veteran Invited Guest--Signers of the
Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence--Origin of the Alexander
Families of Mecklenburg county--Jack Family--Captain Charles Polk's
"Muster Roll,"--President James K. Polk--General William Davidson,
General George Graham--William Richardson Davie--Battle of the Hanging
Rock--General Michael McLeary--Major Thomas Alexander--Captain William
Alexander--Elijah Alexander--Captain Charles Alexander--Joseph Kerr,
"The Cripple Spy"--Robert Kerr--Henry Hunter--James Orr--Skirmish at
Charlotte; or, First attack of the "Hornets"--Surprise at McIntire's,
or, the "Hornets" at work--Judge Samuel Lowrie--The Ladies of the
Revolutionary Period--Mrs. Eleanor Wilson--Queen's Museum.



The "Black Boys" of Cabarrus--Dr. Charles Harris--Captain Thomas



Route of the British Army through Mecklenburg and Rowan Counties--
General Griffith Rutherford--Locke Family--Hon. Archibald Henderson--
Richard Pearson--Mrs Elizabeth Steele.



Col. Alexander Osborn--Captain William Sharpe--Major William Gill--
Captain Andrew Carson, and others--Captain Alexander Davidson--Captain
James Houston--Captain James Houston's Muster Roll--Rev. James Hall--
Hon. Hugh Lawson White.



Battle of Ramseur's Mill--Route of the British Army through Lincoln
county--Gen. Joseph Graham--Brevard Family--Col. James Johnston--
Genealogy of Col. James Johnston--Jacob Forney, Sr.--Gen. Peter
Forney--Major Abram Forney--Remarks--Genealogy of the Forney Family.



Rev. Humphrey Hunter--Dr. William McLean--Major William Chronicle--
Captain Samuel Martin--Captain Samuel Caldwell--Captain John Mattocks--
William Rankin--General John Moore--Elisha Withers.



Battle of King's Mountain--Colonel William Campbell--Colonel Isaac
Shelby--Colonel James D. Williams--Colonel William Graham--
Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Hambrigh.



Battle of the Cowpens--General Daniel Morgan--General Charles McDowell
and Brothers.



Colonel Benjamin Cleaveland--Colonel John Sevier--General William



Lord Cornwallis--Colonel Tarleton--Cherokee Indians--Conclusion.


DATE               EVENTS.

1492 October 12,   Columbus discovered America.

1584 July 4,       Amadas and Barlow approach the coast of North

1663               Charter of Charles II, William Drummond, first
                     Governor of North Carolina.

1678               John Culpeper's Rebellion.

1693               Carolina divided into North and South Carolina.

1705               First Church erected in North Carolina.

1705               First Newspaper published in the United States.

1710               Carey's Rebellion.

1729               Charter of Charles II, surrendered.

1765               Stamp Act passed.

1771 May 16,       Battle of Alamance.

1774 August 25,    Popular Assembly at Newbern.

1775 May 20        Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.

1775 June,         General Washington commander-in-chief.

1775 June 17,      Battle of Bunker's Hill.

1775 August,       Josiah Martin, Royal Governor, retreated.

1775 December 9,   Battle of Great Bridge, near Norfolk, Va.

1776 February 27,  Battle of Moore's Creek, N.C.

1776 August 27,    Battle of Long Island.

1776 December 12,  Constitution of North Carolina formed at Halifax.

1776 December 26,  Battle of Trenton.

1776 Aug. & Sept., General Rutherford subdues the Cherokees.

1777 January 3,    Battle of Princeton.

1777 September 11, Battle of Brandywine.

1777 October 4,    Battle of Germantown.

1777 October 7,    Battle of Saratoga.

1778 June 28,      Battle of Monmouth

1779 March 3,      Ashe defeated at Brier Creek.

1779 June 2        Battle of Stono, near Charleston.

1780 May 17        Surrender of Charleston.

1780 June 21,      Battle of Ramsour's Mill.

1780 August 7,     Battle of the Hanging Rock.

1780 August 16,    Gates defeated at Camden.

1780 October 7,    Battle of King's Mountain.

1781 January 17,   Battle of the Cowpens.

1781 March 15,     Battle of Guilford Court House.

1781 September 8,  Battle of Eutaw.

1781 October 19,   Battle of Yorktown.

1783 January 20,   Treaty of peace at Versailles.

1783 September 3,  England recognizes the Independence of the United

1787 May,          Constitution of the United States formed.



North Carolina, in the days of her colonial existence, was the asylum
and the refuge of the poor and the oppressed of all nations. In her
borders the emigrant, the fugitive, and the exile found a home and
safe retreat. Whatever may have been the impelling cause of their
emigration--whether political servitude, religious persecution, or
poverty of means, with the hope of improving their condition, the
descendants of these enterprising, suffering, yet prospered people,
have just reason to bless the kind Providence that guided their
fathers, in their wanderings, to such a place of comparative rest.

On the sandy banks of North Carolina the flag of England was first
displayed in the United States. Roanoke Island, between Pamlico and
Albemarle Sounds, afforded the landing place to the first expedition
sent out under the auspices of Sir Walter Raleigh, in 1584. "The
fragrance, as they drew near the land, says Amadas in his report, was
as if they had been in the midst of some delicate garden, abounding in
all manner of odoriferous flowers." Such, no doubt, it seemed to them
during the first summer of their residence in 1584; and,
notwithstanding the disastrous termination of that, and several
succeeding expeditions, the same maritime section of North Carolina
has presented its peculiar features of attractiveness to many
generations which have since arisen there, and passed away. In the
same report, we have the first notice of the celebrated Scuppernong
grape, yielding its most abundant crops under the saline atmospheric
influence, and semi-tropical climate of eastern Carolina.

From the glowing description of the country, in its primitive
abundance, transmitted to Elizabeth and her court, they gave it the
name _Virginia_, being discovered in the reign of a _virgin Queen_.
But having failed in this and several other attempts of a similar
kind, Sir Walter Raleigh surrendered his patent, and nothing more was
done in colonizing Virginia during the remainder of that century.

In 1607, the first permanent settlement was made by the English at
Jamestown, Va., under the charter of the London or Southern Company.
This charter contained none of the elements of popular liberty, not
one elective franchise, nor one of the rights of self-government; but
religion was especially enjoined to be established according to the
rites and doctrine of the Church of England. The infant colony
suffered greatly for several years from threatened famine,
dissensions, and fear of the Indians, but through the energy and
firmness of Capt John Smith, was enabled to maintain its ground, and
in time, show evident signs of prosperity. The jealousy of arbitrary
power, and impatience of liberty among the new settlers, induced Lord
Delaware, Governor of Virginia in 1619, to reinstate them in the full
possession of the rights of Englishmen; and he accordingly convoked a
Provincial Assembly, the _first_ ever held in America. The
deliberations and laws of this infant Legislature were transmitted to
England for approval, and so wise and judicious were these, that the
company under whose auspices they were acting, soon after confirmed
and ratified the groundwork of what gradually ripened into the
_American representative system_. The guarantee of political rights
led to a rapid colonization. Men were now willing to regard Virginia
as their home. "They fell to building houses and planting corn." Women
were induced to leave the parent country to become the wives of
adventurous planters; and during the space of three years thirty-five
hundred persons of both sexes, found their way to Virginia. By various
modifications of their charter, the colonists, in a few years,
obtained nearly all the civil rights and privileges which they could
claim as British subjects; but the church of England was "coeval with
the settlement of Jamestown, and seems to have been considered from
the beginning as the established religion." At what time settlements
were first permanently made within the present limits of North
Carolina, has not been clearly ascertained. In 1622, the Secretary of
the colony of Virginia traveled overland to Chowan River, and
described, in glowing terms, the fertility of the soil, the salubrity
of the climate, and the kindness of the natives. In 1643, a company
obtained permission of the Virginia Legislature to prosecute
discoveries on the great river South of the Appomatox of which they
had heard, under a monopoly of the profits for fourteen years, but
with what measure of success has not been recorded. These early
exploring parties to the South, bringing back favorable reports of the
fertile lands of the Chowan and the Roanoke could not fail to excite
in the colony of Jamestown a spirit of emigration, many of whose
members were already suffering under the baneful effects of intolerant
legislation. In 1643, during the administration of Sir William
Berkeley, it was specially "ordered that no minister should preach or
teach, publicly or privately, except in conformity to the
constitutions of the church of England, and non-conformists were
banished from the colony."[A] It is natural to suppose that
individuals as well as families, who were fond of a roaming life, or
who disliked the religious persecution to which they were subjected,
would descend the banks of these streams until they found on the soil
of Carolina suitable locations for peaceable settlements.

In 1653, Roger Green led a company across the wilderness from
Nansemond, in Virginia, to the Chowan River, and settled near Edenton.
There they prospered, and others, influenced by similar motives, soon
afterward followed. In 1662, George Durant purchased of the Yeopim
Indians the neck of land, on the North-side of Albemarle Sound, which
still bears his name. It was settled by persons driven off from
Virginia through religious persecutions. In 1663, King Charles II,
granted to the Earl of Clarendon and seven other associates, the whole
of the region from the thirty-sixth degree of north latitude to the
river San Matheo, (now the St. John's) in Florida; and extending
westwardly, like all of that monarch's charters, to the Pacific Ocean.

At the date of this charter, (1663,) Sir William Berkeley, Governor of
Virginia, visited the infant settlement on the Chowan, and being
pleased with its evident signs of prosperity, and increasing
importance, appointed William Drummond the _first Governor_ of the
Colony of Carolina. Drummond was a Scotch Presbyterian, and,
inheriting the national characteristics of that people, was prudent,
cautious, and deeply impressed with the love of liberty. Such were the
pioneer settlements, and such was the first Governor of North
Carolina. The beautiful lake in the centre of the Dismal Swamp, noted
for its healthy water, and abundantly laid in by sea-going vessels,
perpetuates his name.

In 1665, it being discovered that the "County of Albemarle," as the
settlement on the Chowan was called, was not in the limits of the
Carolina charter, but in Virginia, King Charles, on petition, granted
an enlargement of that instrument so as to make it extend from
twenty-nine degrees to thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes, north
latitude. These charters were liberal in the concession of civil
rights, and the proprietors were permitted to exercise toleration
towards non-conformists, if it should be deemed expedient. Great
encouragement was held forth to immigrants from abroad, and
settlements steadily increased. They were allowed to form a
representative government, with certain limitations; and thus a degree
of popular freedom was conceded, which it seems, was not intended to
be permanent, but it could _never be recalled_; and had an important
influence in producing the results which we now enjoy. As the people
were chiefly refugees from religious oppression, they had no claims on
government, nor did they wish to draw its attention. They regarded the
Indians as the true lords of the soil; treated with them in that
capacity; purchased their lands, and obtained their grants. At the
death of Governor Drummond in 1667, the colony of Carolina contained
about four thousand inhabitants.

The first assembly that made laws for Carolina convened in the Fall of
1669. "Here," says Bancroft, "was a colony of men scattered among
forests, hermits with wives and children resting on the bosom of
nature, in perfect harmony with the wilderness of their gentle clime.
The planters of Albemarle were men led to the choice of their
residence from a hatred of restraint. Are there any who doubt man's
capacity for self-government? Let them study the history of North
Carolina. Its inhabitants were restless and turbulent in their
imperfect submission to a government imposed from abroad; the
administration of the colony was firm, humane, and tranquil when they
were left to take care of themselves. Any government but one of their
own institution was oppressive. North Carolina was settled by the
freest of the free. The settlers were gentle in their tempers, of
serene minds, enemies to violence and bloodshed. Not all the
successive revolutions had kindled vindictive passions; freedom,
entire freedom was enjoyed without anxiety as without guarantees. The
charities of life were scattered at their feet like the flowers of
their meadows."[B] No freer country was ever organized by man. Freedom
of conscience, exemption from taxation, except by their own consent;
gratuities in land to every emigrant, and other wholesome regulations
claimed the prompt legislative action of the infant colony. "These
simple laws suited a simple people, who were as free as the air of
their mountains; and when oppressed, were as rough as the billows of
the ocean."[C]

In 1707, a company of Huguenots, as the French Protestants were
called, settled on the Trent. In 1709, the Lords Proprietors granted
to Baron de Graffenreidt ten thousand acres of land on the Neuse and
Cape Fear rivers for colonizing purposes. In a short time afterward, a
great number of Palatines (Germans) and fifteen hundred Swiss followed
the Baron, and settled at the confluence of the Trent and the Neuse.
The town was called New Berne, after Berne, in Switzerland, the
birth-place of Graffenreidt. This was the first important introduction
into Eastern Carolina of a most excellent class of liberty-loving
people, whose descendants wherever their lots were cast, in our
country, gave illustrious proof of their valor and patriotism during
the Revolutionary war.

In 1729, the Lords Proprietors (except Lord Granville) surrendered the
government of the province, with all the franchises under the charter
of Charles II, and their property in the soil, to the crown for a
valuable consideration. The population at that time did not exceed ten
thousand inhabitants. George Burrington. Governor of the province
under the Lords Proprietors, was re-appointed to the same office by
the King. In February, 1731, he thus officially writes to the Duke of
New Castle. "The inhabitants of North Carolina are not industrious,
but subtle and crafty to admiration; always behaved insolently to
their Governors; some of them they have imprisoned; drove others out
of the country; and at other times have set up a governor of their own
choice, supported by men under arms. These people are neither to be
cajoled nor outwitted. Whenever any governor attempts to effect
anything by these means, he will lose his labor, and show his
ignorance." Lord Granville's part of the colony of North Carolina
(one-eighth) was not laid off to him, adjoining Virginia, until 1743.
At that date, a strong tide of emigration was taking place from the
Chowan and Roanoke, the pioneer attractive points of the colony, as
well as from abroad, to the great interior, and Western territory, now
becoming dotted with numerous habitations. The Tuscarora Indians, the
terrible scourge of Eastern Carolina, having been subdued, and entered
into a treaty of peace and friendship in 1718, no serious obstacle
interposed to prevent a Western extension of settlements. Already
adventurous individuals, and even families of hardy pioneers had
extended their migrations to the Eastern base of the "Blue Ridge," and
selected locations on the head-waters of the Yadkin and Catawba
rivers. In 1734, Gabriel Johnston was appointed Governor of North
Carolina. He was a Scotchman by birth, a man of letters and of liberal
views. He was by profession a physician, and held the appointment of
Professor of Oriental Languages in the University of Saint Andrews.
His addresses to the Legislature show that he fully appreciated the
lamentable condition of the colony through the imprudence and vicious
conduct of his predecessor (Burrington) and his earnest desire to
promote the welfare of the people. Under his prudent administration,
the province increased in population, wealth and happiness. At the
time of its purchase by the crown, its population did not exceed
thirteen thousand; it was now upwards of forty five thousand.

In 1754, Arthur Dobbs was appointed Governor by the crown. His
administration of ten years presented a continued contest between
himself and the Legislature on matters frivolous and unimportant. His
high-toned temper for royal prerogatives was sternly met by the
indomitable resistance of the colonists. The people were also much
oppressed by Lord Granville's agents, one of whom (Corbin) was seized
and brought to Enfield, where he was compelled to give bond and
security, produce his books, and disgorge his illegal fees. But
notwithstanding these internal commotions and unjust exactions, always
met by the active resistance of the people, the colony continued to
increase in power, and spread abroad its arms of _native inherent
protection_. During the entire administrations of Governors Johnston
and Dobbs, commencing in 1734 and ending in 1765, a strong tide of
emigration was setting into North Carolina from two opposite
directions. While one current from Pennsylvania passed down through
Virginia, forming settlements in its course, another current met it
from the South, and spread itself over the inviting lands and
expansive domain of the Carolinas and Georgia. Near the close of
Governor Johnston's administration (1750) numerous settlements had
been made on the beautiful plateau of country between the Yadkin and
Catawba rivers. At this time, the Cherokee Indians, the most powerful
of the Western tribes, still claimed the territory, as rightful "lords
of the soil," and were committing numerous depredations and occasional
murders. In 1756, Fort Dobbs about twenty miles West of Salisbury, was
built for the protection of the small neighborhood of farmers and
grazers around it. Even the thriving colony of "Albemarle county" on
the seaboard now felt its growing importance was beginning to call for
"more room," and seek new possessions in the interior, thus
unconsciously fulfilling the truth of the poet's prediction, "Westward
the course of empire takes its way."

On the 3d of April, 1765, William Tryon qualified as Commander
in-chief, and Captain-General of the Province of North Carolina. The
administration of Governor Tryon embraces an important period in the
history of the State. He was a soldier by profession, and being
trained to arms, looked upon the sword as the true scepter of
government. "He knew when to flatter, and when to threaten. He knew
when 'discretion was the better part of valor,' and when to use such
force and cruelty as achieved for him from the Cherokee Indians, the
bloody title of the 'Great Wolf of North Carolina.' He could use
courtesy towards the Assembly when he desired large appropriations for
his magnificent palace; and knew how to bring to bear the
blandishments of the female society of his family, and all the
appliances of generous hospitality."[D] Governor Tryon first met the
Assembly in the town of Wilmington on the 3d of May 1765. "In his
address, he opposed all religious intolerance, and, although he
recommended provision for the clergy out of the public treasury, yet
he advised the members of the Church of England of the folly of
attempting to establish it by legal enactment. Under such
recommendations, a law was passed legalizing the marriages (which
before were denounced as illegal) performed by Presbyterian ministers,
and authorizing them and other dissenting clergymen to perform that

On the 22nd of March, 1765, the Stamp Act was passed. This act
produced great excitement throughout the whole country, and no where
was it more violently denounced than in North Carolina. The
Legislature was then in session, and so intense and wide-spread was
the opposition to this odious measure, that Governor Tryon,
apprehending the passage of denunciatory resolutions, prorogued that
body after a session of fifteen days. The speaker of the House, John
Ashe, informed Governor Tryon that this law "would be resisted to
blood and death."

Early in the year 1766, the sloop-of-war, Diligence, arrived in the
Cape Fear River, having on board stamp paper for the use of the
province. The first appearance and approach of the vessel had been
closely watched, and when it anchored before the town of Brunswick, on
the Cape Fear, Col. John Ashe, of the county of New Hanover, and Col.
Hugh Waddell, of the county of Brunswick, marched at the head of the
brave sons of these counties to Brunswick, and notified the captain of
their determination to resist the landing of the stamps. They seized
one of the boats of the sloop, hoisted it on a cart, fixed a mast in
her, mounted a flag, and marched in triumph to Wilmington. The
inhabitants all joined in the procession, and at night the town was
illuminated. On the next day, Col. Ashe, at the head of a great
concourse of people, proceeded to the Governor's house and demanded of
him to desist from all attempts to execute the Stamp Act, and to
produce to them James Houston, a member of the Council, who had been
appointed Stamp Master for the Province. The Governor at first refused
to comply with a demand so sternly made. But the haughty
representative of kingly power had to yield before the power of an
incensed people, who began to make preparations to set fire to his
house. The Governor then reluctantly produced Houston, who was seized
by the people, carried to the market house, and there compelled to
take a solemn oath never to perform the duties of his office. After
this he was released and conducted by a delighted crowd, to the
Governor's Palace. The people gave three cheers and quietly dispersed.
Here we have recorded an act far more daring in its performance than
that of the famous Tea Party of Boston, which has been celebrated by
every writer of our national history, and

     "Pealed and chimed on every tongue of fame."

It is an act of the sons of the "Old North State," not committed on
the crew of a vessel, so disguised as to escape identity; but on
royalty itself, occupying a palace, and in open day, by men of well
known person and reputation.

Another event of great historic importance occurred during the
administration of Governor Tryon. On the 16th of May, 1771, the battle
of Alamance was fought. It is here deemed unnecessary to enter into a
detail of the circumstances leading to this unfortunate conflict.
Suffice it to say the Regulators, as they were called, suffered
greatly by heavy exactions, by way of taxes, from the Governor to the
lowest subordinate officer. They rose to arms--were beaten, but theirs
was the _first blood shed_ for freedom in the American colonies. Many
true patriots, who did not comprehend the magnitude of their
grievances, fought against them. But the principles of right and
justice for which they contended could never die. In less than four
years, all the Colonies were found battling for the same principles,
and borne along in the rushing tide of revolution! The men on the
seaboard of Carolina, with Cols. Ashe and Waddell at their head, had
nobly opposed the Stamp Act in 1765, and prevented its execution; and
in their patriotic movements the people of Orange sustained them, and
called them the "Sons of Liberty." Col. Ashe, in 1766, had led the
excited populace in Wilmington, against the wishes and even the
hospitality of the governor. The assembled patriots had thrown the
Governor's roasted ox, provided for a barbecue feast, untasted, into
the river. Now, these patriotic leaders are found marching with this
very Governor to subdue the _disciples of liberty_ in the west. The
eastern men looked for evils from across the waters, and were prepared
to resist oppression on their shores before it should reach the soil
of their State. The western men were seeking redress for grievances
that oppressed them at home, under the misrule of the officers of the
province, evils scarcely known in the eastern counties, and
misunderstood when reported there. Had Ashe, and Waddell, and Caswell
understood all the circumstances of the case, they would have acted
like Thomas Person, of Granville. and favored the distressed, even
though they might have felt under obligations to maintain the peace of
the province, and due subordination to the laws. Herman Husbands, the
head of the Regulators, has been denounced by a late writer, as a
"turbulent and seditious character." If such he was, then John Ashe
and Hugh Waddell, for opposing the stamp law, were equally turbulent
and seditious. Time, that unerring test of principles and truth, has
proved that the spirit of liberty which animated the Regulators, was
the true spirit which subsequently led to our freedom from foreign

On the 24th of May, Tryon, after committing acts of revenge, cruelty
and barbarity succeeding the Alamance battle, returned to his palace
at Newbern, and on the 30th took shipping for New York, over which
State he had been appointed Governor. Josiah Martin was appointed by
the crown, Tryon's successor as Governor of North Carolina. He met the
Legislature, for the first time, in the town of Newbern, in November,
1771. Had he lived in less troublesome times, his administration might
have been peaceful and prosperous. Governor Martin had the misfortune
to differ very soon with the lower House of the Assembly; and during
the whole of his administration, these difficulties continued and grew
in magnitude, helping, at last, to accelerate the downfall of the
royal government. In this Assembly we find the names of a host of
distinguished patriots, as John Ashe, Cornelius Harnett, "the Samuel
Adams of North Carolina," Samuel Johnson, Willie Jones, Joseph Hews,
Abner Nash, John Harvey, Thomas Person, Griffith Rutherford, Abraham
Alexander, Thomas Polk, and many others, showing that, at that early
date, the Whig party had the complete control of the popular House of
the Assembly, in accordance with the recommendation of Governor
Martin, the veil of oblivion was drawn over the past unhappy troubles,
and all the animosities and distinctions which they created. The year
1772 passed by without a meeting of the Assembly; and the only
political event of any great importance, which occurred in the
Province, was the election of members to the popular House. Such was
the triumph of the Whig party, that in many of the counties there was
no opposition to the election of the old leaders, nor could the
Governor be said to have a party sufficiently powerful to effect an
election before the people, or the passage of a bill before the
Assembly. The Assembly, however, in consequence of two dissolutions by
the Governor, did not convene in Newbern until the 25th of January,
1773, and the popular House illustrated its political character by the
election of John Harvey to the office of Speaker. To this new Assembly
many of the leading members of the House in 1771, were returned.
Thomas Polk and Abraham Alexander were not members; the former having
been employed in the service of the Governor, as surveyor, in running
the dividing line between North and South Carolina, and the latter not
having solicited the suffrages of the people. The county of
Mecklenburg was, in the Assembly, represented by Martin Pheifer and
John Davidson.

The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Harvey, laid before that
body resolutions of the House of Burgess of Virginia (1773) of the
12th of March last; also, letters from the Speakers of the lower
houses of several other provinces, requesting that a committee be
appointed to inquire into the encroachments of England upon the rights
and liberties of America. The House passed a resolution that "such
example was worthy of imitation, by which means communication and
concert would be established among the colonies; and that they will at
all times be ready to exert their efforts to preserve and defend their
rights." John Harvey, (Speaker) Robert Howe, Cornelius Harnet, William
Hooper, Richard Caswell, Edward Vail, John Ashe, Joseph Hewes and
Samuel Johnston were this committee. This is the first record of a
legislative character which led to the Revolution.

During the summer of 1774 the people in all parts of the province
manifested their approbation of the proposed plan of calling a
Congress or Assembly, to consult upon common grievances; and in nearly
all the counties and principal towns meetings were held, and delegates
appointed to meet in the town of Newbern on the 25th of August, 1774.

On the 13th of August, Governor Martin issued a proclamation
complaining that meetings of the people had been held without legal
authority, and that resolutions had been passed derogatory to the
authority of the King and Parliament. He advised the people to forbear
attending any such meetings, and ordered the King's officers to oppose
them to the utmost of their power. But the delegates of the people
attended on the day appointed without any obstruction from the "king's
officers." The proclamation of Governor Martin availed nothing. (_Vox
et praeterea nil_.) Excited at this state of affairs, Governor Martin
consulted his council on the steps most proper to be taken in the
emergency. They advised him that "nothing further could be done." This
first Assembly, or Provincial Congress, independent of royal
authority, in Newbern, on the 25th of August, 1774, is an important
epoch in our history. It was the first act of that great drama of
revolutionizing events which finally achieved our independence.

After the adjournment of this Provincial Congress Governor Martin
visited New York, ostensibly for the "benefit of his health," and,
perhaps, for the benefit of his government. The tumults of the people
at Newbern, that raged around him, and which threatened to overthrow
his power, were, by his own confession, "beyond his control"; but he
hoped the influence of Governor Tyron, who still governed New York,
might assist him in restoring peace and authority in North Carolina.
Vain, delusive hope, as the sequel proved!

The year 1775 is full of important events, only a few of which can be
adverted to in this brief sketch. In February, 1775, John Harvey
issued a notice to the people to elect delegates to represent them in
a second Provincial Congress at Newbern on the 3rd of April, being the
same time and place of the meeting of the Colonial Assembly. This
roused the indignation of Governor Martin, and caused him to issue, on
the 1st of March, 1775, his proclamation denouncing the popular

In his speech to the Assembly, Governor Martin expressed "his concern
at this extraordinary state of affairs. He reminded the members of
their oath of allegiance, and denounced the meeting of delegates
chosen by the people, as illegal, and one that he should resist by
every means in his power." In the dignified reply of the House, the
Governor was informed that the right of the people to assemble, and
petition the throne for a redress of their grievances was undoubted,
and that this right included that of appointing delegates for such
purpose. The House passed resolutions approving of the proceedings of
the Continental Congress at Philadelphia (4th of Sept. 1774) and
declared their determination to use their influence in carrying out
the views of that body. Whereupon, the Governor, by advice of his
council, dissolved the Assembly, by proclamation, after a session of
four days.

Thus ceased forever all legislative action and intercourse under the
Royal government. Indeed, from the organization of the first
Provincial Congress or Convention, in Newbern (Aug. 25th, 1774)
composed of delegates "fresh from the people" the pioneers in our
glorious revolution, until Governor Martin's expulsion, North Carolina
was enjoying and exercising an almost unlimited control of _separate
governmental independence_. After the dissolution of the Assembly on
the 8th of April, 1775, Governor Martin lingered only a few days,
first taking refuge in Fort Jonston, and afterwards, on board of the
ship of war, the Cruiser, anchored in the Cape Fear River. Only one
more frothy proclamation (8th of Aug., 1775,) appeared from Governor
Martin, against the patriotic leaders of North Carolina, issued this
time, not from "the palace," at Newbern, but from a _cruising_ source
and out-look, and on a river, whose very name typified the real origin
of his departure, and present retirement.

These glimpses of the colonial history of North Carolina, necessary to
a proper understanding of the following sketches, will serve to
illustrate, in a limited degree, the character of her people, and
their unyielding opposition to all unjust exactions, and encroachment
of arbitrary power. While these stirring transactions were transpiring
in eastern Carolina, the people of Mecklenburg county moved, in their
sovereign capacity, the question of independence, and took a much
bolder, and more decided stand than the Colonial or Continental
Congress had as yet assumed. This early action of that patriotic
county, effected after mature deliberation, is one of the ever
memorable transactions of the State of North Carolina, worthy of being
cherished and honored by every lover of patriotism to the end of time.
The public mind had been much excited at the attempts of Governor
Martin to prevent the meeting of the Provincial Congress at Newbern,
and his arbitrary conduct in dissolving the Assembly, when only in
session four days, leaving them unprotected by courts of law, and
without the present opportunity of finishing many important matters of
legislation. In this state of affairs, the people began to think that,
since the proper, lawful authorities failed to perform their
legitimate duty, it was time to provide safe-guards for themselves,
and to throw off all allegiance to powers that cease to protect their
liberties, or their property.

A late author has truly said, "Men will not be fully able to
understand North Carolina until they have opened the treasures of
history, and become familiar with the doings of her sons, previous to
the revolution; during that painful struggle; and the succeeding years
of prosperity. Then will North Carolina be respected as she is




Mecklenburg county was formed in 1762 from Anson county, and named in
honor of the native place of the new Queen, Princess Charlotte, of
Mecklenburg, one of the smaller German States.

This county has a peculiar historical interest. It is the birth-place
of liberty on American soil. No portion of the State presents a more
glowing page of unflinching patriotic valor than Mecklenburg, always
taking an active part in every political movement, at home or abroad,
leading to independence.

The temper and character of the people were early shown. In 1766,
George A. Selwyn, having obtained, by some means, large grants of
lands from the British Crown, proceeded to have them surveyed, through
his agent, Henry E. McCullock, and located. On some of these grants,
the first settlers had made considerable improvements by their own
stalwart arms, and persevering industry. For this reason, and not
putting much faith in the validity of Selwyn's claims, they seized
John Frohock, the surveyor, and compelled him to desist from his work,
or _fare worse_. Here was manifested the early _buzzing_ of the
"Hornets' Nest." which, in less than ten years, was destined to
_sting_ royalty itself in these American colonies. The little village
of Charlotte, the seat of justice for Mecklenburg county, was in 1775,
the theater of one of the most memorable events in the political
annals of the United States. Situated on the beautiful and fertile
champaign, between the Yadkin and Catawba Rivers, and on the general
route of the Southern travel, and among the earliest settlements in
the Carolinas and Georgia, it soon became the centre of an
enterprising and prosperous population. The fertility of the soil, the
healthfulness of the climate, and abundance of cheap and
unappropriated lands, were powerful inducements in drawing a large
influx of emigrants from the Northern colonies, and from the Old
World. These natural features of middle and western Carolina; in
particular, were strongly attractive, and pointed out, under
well-directed energy, the sure road to prospective wealth and

The face of the country was then overspread with wild "pea vines," and
luxuriant herbage; the water courses bristled with cane brakes; and
the forest abounded with a rich variety and abundance of
food-producing game. The original conveyance for the tract of land,
upon which the city of Charlotte now stands, contained 360 acres, and
was made on the 15th day of January. 1767, by Henry E. McCullock,
agent for George A. Selwyn, to "Abraham Alexander, Thomas Polk, and
John Frohock as Trustees and Directors, of the town of Charlotte, and
their successors." The consideration was "ninety pounds, lawful
money." The conveyance was witnessed by Matthew McLure and Joseph

A few words of explanation, as to one of the Trustees, may be here
appropriate. The Frohock family resided in Rowan county, and, before
the revolution, exerted a considerable influence, holding places of
profit and trust. William Frohock was Captain of a military company,
and at one time, (1771) Deputy Sheriff under General Rutherford.
Thomas Frohock was Clerk of the Superior Court, in Rowan, and Senator
to the State Legislature from the town of Salisbury, in 1785 and 1786.
John Frohock, named in the conveyance, was, for several years, Clerk
of the County Court, an active Surveyor, and resided, during much of
his time in Mecklenburg, employed in the duties of his profession.

Soon after the town of Charlotte was laid out, a log building was
erected at the intersection of Trade and Tryon streets, and in the
centre of the space now known as "Independence Square." This building
was placed upon substantial brick pillars, ten or twelve feet high,
with a stairway on the outside, leading to the court room. The lower
part, in conformity with primitive economy and convenience, was used
as a Market House; and the upper part as a Court House, and frequently
for church, and other public meetings. Although the original building
has long since passed away, yet it has historic associations connected
with its colonial and revolutionary existence, which can never cease
to command the admiration of every true patriot.

In May, 1775, its walls resounded with the _tones of earnest debate
and independence_, proclaimed from the court house steps. In
September, 1780, its walls resounded with the _tones of the musket_,
by the same people, who "knew their rights, and knowing, dared

At this period, there was no printing press in the upper country of
Carolina, and as no regular post traversed this region, a newspaper
was seldom seen among the people. Important information was
transmitted from one colony to another by express messengers on
horse-back, as was done by Captain Jack in bearing the Mecklenburg
Declaration to Philadelphia. The people were accustomed to assemble at
stated places to listen to the reading of printed hand-bills from
abroad, or to obtain verbal intelligence of passing events.

Charlotte early became the central point in Mecklenburg county for
these assemblages, and there the leading men often met at Queen's
Museum or College, to discuss the exciting topics of the day. These
meetings were at first irregular, and without system. It was finally
agreed that Thomas Polk, Colonel of the militia, long a surveyor in
the province, frequently a member of the Colonial Assembly, and a man
of great excellence of character should be authorized to call a
convention of the Representatives of the people whenever circumstances
seemed to require it. It was also agreed that such Representatives
should consist of two delegates from each Captain's Company, chosen by
the people of the several militia districts, and that their decisions,
when thus legally convened, should be binding upon the whole county.

When it became known that Governor Martin had attempted, by his
proclamation, issued on the 1st of March, 1775, to prevent the
Assembling of a Provincial Congress at Newbern, on the 3d of April
following; and when it was recollected that, by his arbitrary
authority, he had dissolved the last Provincial Assembly, after a
session of only four days, and before any important business had been
transacted, the public excitement became intense, and the people were
clamorous for some decisive action, and a redress of their grievances.
A large majority of the people were willing to incur the dangers
incident to revolution, for the sake of themselves, their posterity,
and the sacred cause of liberty.

In this State of the public mind, Col. Polk issued his notice to the
committee-men, two from each Captain's district, as previously agreed
upon, to assemble in Charlotte on the 19th of May, 1775, to consult
for the common good, and inaugurate such measures as would conduce to
that desirable end. The notice of the appointed meeting spread rapidly
through the county, and all classes of citizens, intuitively, as it
were, partook of the general enthusiasm, and felt the importance of
the approaching convention. On the appointed day, an immense concourse
of people, consisting of gray-haired sires, and vigorous youths from
all parts of the county, assembled in the town of Charlotte, then
containing about twenty-five houses, all anxious to know the result of
that ever-memorable occasion. After assembling in the court house,
Abraham Alexander, a venerable citizen and magistrate of the county,
and former member of the Legislature was made chairman; and John
McKnitt Alexander, assisted by Dr. Ephraim Brevard, Secretaries, all
men of business habits, and of great popularity. A full, free and
animated discussion upon the exciting topics of the day then ensued,
in which Dr. Ephraim Brevard, a finished scholar; Col. William Kennon,
an eminent lawyer of Salisbury, and Rev. Hezekiah J. Balch, a
distinguished Presbyterian preacher, were the chief speakers. During
the session of the convention, an express messenger arrived, bearing
the news of the wanton and cruel shedding of blood at Lexington on the
19th of April, just one month proceeding. This intelligence served to
increase the general patriotic ardor, and the assembly, as with one
voice, cried out, "Let us be independent. Let us declare our
independence, and defend it with our lives and fortunes." The speakers
said, his Majesty's proclamation had declared them out of the
protection of the British Crown, and they ought, therefore, to declare
themselves out of his protection, and be independent of his
government. A committee consisting of Dr. Brevard, Col. Kennon, and
the Rev. Mr. Balch, was then appointed to prepare resolutions suitable
to the occasion. The excitement of the people continued to increase,
and the deliberations of the convention, including the framing of
by-laws, and regulations by which it should be governed, as a standing
committee, were not completed until after midnight, showing the great
interest which every one felt, and that a solemn crisis had arrived
which demanded firm and united action for the common defence. Upon the
return of the committee, the chairman proceeded to submit the
resolutions of independence to the vote of the convention. All was
silence and stillness around (_intentique ora tenebant_). The question
was then put, "Are you all agreed." The response was one universal
"aye," not one dissenting voice in that immense assemblage. It was
then agreed that the proceedings should be read to the whole
multitude. Accordingly at noon, on the 20th of May, 1775, Colonel
Thomas Polk ascended the steps of the old court house, and read, in
clear and distinct tones, the following patriotic resolutions,


"_Resolved_, 1. That whoever directly or indirectly abetted, or in any
way, form or manner, countenanced the unchartered and dangerous
invasion of our rights, as claimed by Great Britain, is an enemy to
this country, to America, and to the inherent, and inalienable rights
of man.

"_Resolved_, 2. That we, the citizens of Mecklenburg county, do hereby
dissolve the political bands which have connected us to the mother
country, and hereby absolve ourselves from all allegiance to the
British Crown and abjure all political connection, contract, or
association with that nation, who have wantonly trampled on our rights
and liberties, and inhumanly shed the blood of American patriots at

"_Resolved_, 3. That we do hereby declare ourselves a free and
independent people; are, and of right ought to be a sovereign, and
self-governing association, under the control of no power, other than
that of our God, and the general government of the congress; to the
maintenance of which independence, we solemnly pledge to each other
our mutual co-operation, our lives, our fortunes, and our most sacred

"_Resolved_, 4. That, as we acknowledge the existence and control of
no law, or legal officer, civil or military, within this county, we do
hereby ordain and adopt, as a rule of life, all, each, and every one
of our former laws; wherein, nevertheless, the crown of Great Britain
never can be considered as holding rights, privileges, immunities, or
authority therein.

"_Resolved_, 5 That, it is also further decreed that all, each, and
every military officer in this county is hereby retained in his former
command and authority, he acting conformably to these regulations. And
that every member present of this delegation shall henceforth be a
civil officer, viz.: a justice of the peace, in the character of a
committeeman, to issue process, hear and determine all matters of
controversy, according to said adopted laws; and to preserve peace,
union and harmony in said county; and to use every exertion to spread
the love of country, and fire of freedom throughout America, until a
more general and organized government be established in this

After the reading of these resolutions, a voice from the crowd called
out for "three cheers," and soon the welkin rang with corresponding
shouts of applause. The resolutions were read again and again during
the day to different parties, desirous of retaining in their memories
sentiments of patriotism so congenial to their feelings.

A copy of the proceedings of the convention was then drawn off, and
sent by express to the members of congress from North Carolina, at
that time in session at Philadelphia. Captain James Jack, a worthy and
intelligent citizen of Charlotte, was chosen as the bearer; and in a
few days afterward, set out _on horse-back_ in the performance of his
patriotic mission. Of his journeyings, and _perilous adventures_
through a country, much of it infested with Tories, we know but
little. Having faithfully performed the duties of his important trust,
by delivering the resolutions into the hands of the North Carolina
Delegation at Philadelphia (Caswell, Hooper and Hews,) he returned to
his home in Charlotte. He reported that our own Delegation, and
several members of Congress, manifested their entire approbation of
the earnest zeal and patriotism of the Mecklenburg citizens, but
deemed it premature to lay their resolutions before their body, as
they still entertained some hopes of reconciliation with the mother

A copy of the foregoing resolutions were also transmitted to the
Provincial Congress, at Hillsboro, and laid before that body on the
25th of August, 1775, but for the same prudential reasons as just
stated, they declined taking any immediate action.

It has been deemed proper to present this summarized statement of the
circumstances leading to the Mecklenburg Convention of the 19th and
20th of May, 1775, as a source of reference for those who have no
other history of the transaction before them. For a more extended
account of its proceedings, the reader is referred to the pamphlet
published by State authority in 1831, and to the exhaustive treatise
of the late Ex-Governor Graham on the authenticity of the Mecklenburg
resolutions, with notices of the principal actors and witnesses on
that ever-memorable occasion.

Since the publication of Governor Graham's pamphlet shortly before the
Centennial Celebration in Charlotte another copy of the Mecklenburg
resolutions of the 20th of May, 1775, has been found in the possession
of a grandson of Adam Brevard, now residing in Indiana. This copy has
all the outward appearances of age, has been sacredly kept in the
family, and is in a good state of preservation. Adam Brevard was a
younger brother of Dr. Ephraim Brevard, the reputed author of these
resolutions, frequently performed his brother's writing during the
active discharge of his professional duties, and was himself, a man of
cultivated intellect, and christian integrity. He kept a copy of these
patriotic resolutions, mainly with the view of preserving a memento of
his brother's hand writing, and vigor of composition--not supposing
for a moment, their authenticity would ever be called into question.
This venerable patriot, in a manuscript account of a celebration in
Iredell county on the 4th of July, 1824, in discoursing on a variety
of revolutionary matters, says among other things, he was in Salisbury
in June 1775, attending to his professional duties as a lawyer, and
that during the sessions of the General Court in that place, the
bearer of the Mecklenburg Declaration arrived on his way to
Philadelphia. When the object of his mission became known, and the
Mecklenburg resolutions of independence were read in open court, at
the request of Col. Kennon, several Tories who were present said they
were treasonable, and that the framers of them were "rushing headlong
into an abyss where Congress had not dared to pass. Their
intemperance, however, was suddenly arrested by a gentleman from the
same county, who had entered with all his powers into the impending
contest and offered to rest the propriety and justness of the
proceedings, both of Mecklenburg and the Delegate, upon a decision by
the _arm of flesh_ with any one inclinable to abide the result.
Matters, which threatened a conflict of arms were soon hushed up by
this direct argument _ad hominem_, the Delegate retired to rest for
the night, and, on the next morning, resumed his journey to

He also states, in the same manuscript, that in the autumn of the year
1776, he was one of the number who composed the College of Queen's
Museum, and lived with his brother, Dr. Ephraim Brevard, and that in
ransacking a number of his brother's papers thrown aside as useless,
he came across the fragments of a Declaration of Independence by the
people of Mecklenburg. Upon inquiry, his brother informed him they
were the rudiments out of which a short time before, he had framed the
instrument despatched to Congress. The same authority states that he
was in Philadelphia in the latter part of the year 1778, and until May
of the year 1779. During that time, William Sharp. Esq., of Rowan
county, arrived in Philadelphia, as a Delegate to Congress from North
Carolina. Amidst a variety of topics introduced for discussion was
that of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Hon. John Penn,
of North Carolina, said in presence of several members of Congress,
that he was "highly pleased with the bold and distinguished spirit
with which so enlightened a county of the State he had the honor to
represent had _exhibited to the world_, and, furthermore, that the
bearer of the instrument to Congress had conducted himself very
judiciously on the occasion by previously opening his business to the
Delegates of his own State, who assured him that the other States
would soon act in the same patriotic manner as Mecklenburg had done."

This important and additional testimony, here slightly condensed, but
facts not changed, is extracted from a communication in the _Southern
Home_, by Dr. J.M. Davidson, of Florida, a gentleman of great moral
worth and christian integrity, and grandson of Adam Brevard, a brother
of Dr. Ephraim Brevard, the reputed author of the Mecklenburg
Declaration of Independence.

A brief extract from Governor Martin's dispatch to the British
Secretary of State, dated 30th of June, 1775, as found in Wheeler's
"Historical Sketches," will now be given, which cannot be viewed in
any other light than that of disinterested evidence. The Governor
proceeds by saying, "the situation in which I find myself at present
is indeed, my Lord, most despicable and mortifying. ... I live, alas!
ingloriously, only to deplore it. ... The resolves of the Committee of
Mecklenburg, which your Lordship will find in the enclosed newspaper,
surpass all the horrid and treasonable publications that the
inflammatory spirits of the continent have yet produced; and your
Lordship may depend, its authors and abettors will not escape, when my
hands are sufficiently strengthened to attempt the recovery of the
lost authority of the Government. A copy of these resolves was sent
off, I am informed, by express, to the Congress at Philadelphia, as
soon as they were passed in the committee."

The reader will mark, in particular, the closing sentence of this
extract, as confirmatory of what actually took place on the 20th of
May, 1775. Captain James Jack, then of Charlotte, a worthy and
patriotic citizen, did set out a few days after the Convention
adjourned, on _horse back_, as the "express" to Congress at
Philadelphia, and faithfully executed the object of his mission. (For
further particulars, see sketch of the Jack Family.)

The resolutions passed by the county committee of safety on the 31st
of May following, and which some have erroneously confounded with
those of the 20th of May, were a necessary consequence, embracing
simply "rules and regulations" for the internal government of the
county, and hence needed no "express" to Congress.

The preceding testimony, conjoined with that of Gen. Joseph Graham,
Rev. Humphrey Hunter, Captain James Jack, the hearer of the
Mecklenburg Declaration to Congress, Rev. Francis Cummins, Major John
Davidson, Isaac Alexander and others, previously referred to in the
State pamphlet of 1831, and the exhaustive "Memoir" of the late
Ex-Governor Graham--all men of exalted worth and Christian integrity,
ought to be "sufficient to satisfy incredulity itself," as to the
genuineness of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, and of its
promulgation to the world on the 20th of May, 1775. And yet, in the
face of this strong phalanx of unimpeachable testimony, there are a
few who have attempted to rob North Carolina of this brightest gem in
the crown of her early political history, and tarnish, by base and
insidious cavils the fair name and reputation of a band of
Revolutionary patriots, whose memories and heroic deeds the present
generation and posterity will ever delight to honor.

Mecklenburg sent as a Delegate to the first Provincial Congress direct
from the people, which met at Newbern on the 25th of August, 1774,
Benjamin Patton.

To the meeting at Hillsboro', on the 21st of August, 1775, Thomas
Polk, John Phifer, Waightstill Avery, John McKnitt Alexander, James
Houston, and Samuel Martin.

To the meeting at Halifax on the 4th of April, 1776, John Phifer,
Robert Irwin and John McKnitt Alexander.

To the meeting at Halifax, on the 12th of November, 1776 (which formed
the first State Constitution) John Phifer, Robert Irwin, Waighstill
Avery, Hezekiah Alexander and Zaccheus Wilson.

All of these Delegates were unwavering patriots, and nearly all were
signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Not only were
the patriotic sons of Mecklenburg county active and vigilant in those
trying times, but no portion of our State was more constantly the
theater of stirring events during the drama of the American
Revolution. "Its inhabitants," says Tarleton in his campaigns, "were
more hostile to England than any others in America."


The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, proclaimed to the world
on the 20th of May, 1775, was celebrated in Charlotte on the 20th of
May, 1875, with all the honors and ceremonies befitting such an
important occasion. A vast assemblage of at least 25,000 persons were
present to enjoy the "welcome" extended to all, and participate in the
festivities of this gala day of North Carolina. For three days
preceding the grand holiday, (17th, 18th and 19th) visitors were
continually pouring into the city. Enthusiastic excitement and
necessary preparations were everywhere visible. Flags and streamers
greeted the eye in every direction. Many private residences were
handsomely decorated. One of the most _exalted_ ideas was a Centennial
pole, 115 feet high, erected by Capt. Thos. Allen, in the centre of
Independence Square, from the top of which floated to the breeze a
large flag, capped with a huge _hornet's nest_ from Stokes county. To
preserve the _Centennial_ feature as far as possible of the Convention
of the 19th of May, 1775, called out by Col. Thos. Polk, accordingly,
on the 19th of May, 1875, a procession was formed, and the military
companies formed into a hollow square around the Centennial pole, the
bands, in the meantime, rendering sweet music, and the artillery
firing minute guns. The Mayor, Col. William Johnston, then addressed
the multitude, extending to them a cordial welcome in behalf of the
citizens and authorities of Charlotte; after which Governor Brogden
was introduced, and spoke substantially as follows: He said the
principles of liberty enunciated by the fathers of the revolution, one
hundred years ago, upon the spot he then occupied would live
throughout all time. Here, as free American citizens, they had
proclaimed the principles which North Carolina had ever since upheld,
and of which this glorious flag, which waves protection to American
citizens on land and sea was the star-gemmed type. Under this old flag
we have a duty to perform in peace as well as in war. We have the
principles of the fathers of the Mecklenburg Declaration to maintain.
All should remember the sacrifices which gave us the right to that
standard of our country; and we should not forget our duty to North
Carolina, and her daughter, Tennessee, to the sister State of South
Carolina, and to the whole country. Alluding to the growth of the
United States in one hundred years, the Governor said that at the date
of the Mecklenburg declaration of Independence, there were not more
than six post-offices in North Carolina; now there are nine hundred
post-offices; then there was no steam traveling; now there are twelve
hundred miles of rail-way in this State alone. He hoped the country
would go on to prosper in the fulness of civil liberty until there was
no opposition to the principles we cherish. In the name of North
Carolina he welcomed all her sons to this festival, and the sons of
all other sister States.

May 20th, 1875--Centennial morning! Of the large number of illustrious
patriots who participated in the exercises of the Mecklenburg
Convention of the same date, 1775, not one was present to animate us
with their counsel, or speak of the glorious deeds of the
Revolutionary period--all having succumbed to the irrevocable fiat of
nature, and passed to "that bourne whence no traveler returns." Their
example, their precepts, and sacrifices in the cause of freedom,
constitute their rich and instructive heritage to us. A cloudless sky,
a balmy atmosphere, and a glow of patriotic feeling beaming on every
countenance, all conspired to add impressiveness to the scene, and
awaken hallowed remembrances of the past. Agreeably to the published
programme, the day was ushered in by the ringing of bells, and a
salute of one hundred guns by the Raleigh and Richmond artillery. From
six o'clock in the morning until several hours afterward, the whistles
of locomotives every few minutes told of the arrival of trains, packed
with visitors, firemen, military and bands of music. The various
committees were kept busy in directing the movements and assigning
quarters for the organized bodies; while landlords and keepers of
boarding-houses showed an accommodating spirit, and received visitors
until their utmost capacity for room was more than exhausted--full to
overflowing. And, although some difficulty was observed in procuring
bed room, yet an abundance of provisions was everywhere exhibited for
the comfort and well-being of the "inner man."


General Joseph E. Johnston, Chief Marshal, having been prevented from
attending on account of severe sickness. General W.R. Cox, of Raleigh,
was selected to fill his place. General Bradley T. Johnston, of
Richmond, was placed in charge of the Military Department, and John C.
Gorman of the Fire Department. The soldiers were nearly all dressed in
gray suits, and the firemen in red and black, except the Wilmington
company, which also appeared in gray. While the Chief Marshal and his
assistants were endeavoring to bring order out of the immense mass of
humanity in the streets, six splendid bands from Richmond, Newbern,
Raleigh, Wilmington, Fayetteville and Salem, besides the Cadet band of
the Carolina Military Institute, were exerting their sonorous energies
to move the listening million by "concord of sweet sounds," and
thereby prevent them from ever becoming subjects "fit for treason,
stratagems and spoils."

At half-past ten o'clock the grand pageant was fully displayed. As far
as the eye could reach the brilliant procession filled the streets,
presenting a glittering, undulating line of infantry, artillery,
firemen, laddermen, axemen, zouaves, cadets, grangers, masons,
templars, highlanders, citizens, &c, with gleaming arms, rustling
flags, soul-stirring music, and other manifestations of patriotic
enthusiasm. Nearly every window, piazza and house-top was crowded with
feminine loveliness, to cheer with their smiles and lend their
graceful approbation to the _moving_ exhibitions of the occasion. On
the side-walks "miles of spectators" were seen submitting to the
stifling effects of clouds of dust, with the laudable desire "to see
and be seen." While immense flags were floating to the breeze across
the principal streets, countless numbers of miniature ones, in red,
white and blue, fluttered from windows and porches. A large number of
military and fire companies followed by delegations of the Masonic
Order, Good Templars, Odd Fellows, Caledonian Clubs, Grangers, invited
guests, visitors, &c, all joined in the grand procession to the fair


Arriving at the Fair Grounds, the immense concourse of people gathered
around the large stand, which had been erected amidst a clump of
trees, for the ladies and invited guests. The stand was beautifully
decorated with evergreens, festoons, flags, hornets' nests, and other
emblematic devices. The ladies of the city had been diligently weaving
these evergreen and floral adornments for several days preceding the
Centennial. A precious bouquet and wreath, sent by Mrs. L.H. Walker,
from the grounds of Washington's tomb at Mt. Vernon, added a venerated
sanctity to the whole.

At 11 o'clock, Rev. Dr. A.W. Miller, of the First Presbyterian Church,
opened the exercises with an eloquent prayer. The "Old North State"
was then rendered in stirring tones by the Citizens' Band.

Ex-Gov. Graham then called the assembly to order, and said there was
cause to congratulate the vast assemblage of patriotic citizens
convened on this centennial occasion, for the bright, auspicious
weather that prevailed, and for the general health and prosperity of
the country. He felt highly gratified with the patriotic
demonstration, and rejoiced to see in our midst so many prominent
citizens from sister States. The Governor of North Carolina, and
several of the Judges of her Courts were present. The Governor of the
far-off State of Indiana, (Mr. Hendricks,) was here, representing one
of the great Western States which sprung from old Virginia. There was
a representative present (Mr. Bright) from Tennessee, the daughter of
North Carolina. The Governor (Mr. Chamberlain) of South Carolina; the
ex-Governor (Mr. Walker) of Virginia, and a large delegation from both
of these States were all present to participate in the centennial
festivities. In the name of North Carolina, he bade all a hearty

After the conclusion of ex-Gov. Graham's remarks Maj. Seaton Gales, of
Raleigh, was introduced to the audience, who, previous to the reading
of the Mecklenburg Resolves, delivered a short address expressing his
entire confidence in their authenticity.

The orator of the day, Judge John Kerr, of the fifth Judicial
District, was then introduced amidst loud applause. He spoke for half
an hour in stirring, eloquent language, worthy of his high reputation
as an impressive speaker.

Hon. John M. Bright, of Tennessee, was next introduced. He delivered
an address of great power, abounding with many interesting historical
facts relating to the early history of North Carolina, and the
character of her people. As these speeches will be published, it is
deemed unnecessary to present a synopsis of their contents.

The speeches being concluded, the invited guests, firemen, military,
&c., marched into Floral Hall, and were entertained with toasts, short
addresses and music, while the cravings of hunger were rapidly
dispelled by the sumptuous food, and rich viands set before them.

On Thursday night, a stand having been erected around the Centennial
Pole in Independence Square, a number of short and stirring addresses
were made by ex-Gov. Hendricks, of Indiana; ex-Gov. Walker, of
Virginia; Gov. Chamberlain, of South Carolina; Gov. Brogden, of North
Carolina; ex-Gov. Vance, Gen. W.R. Cox, Gen. T.L. Clingman, Judge
Davidson and Col. H.M. Polk, the latter two of Tennessee.

Gov. Hendricks, at the commencement of his address, spoke
substantially as follows:

     "This is one of the greatest celebrations that has ever
     taken place in this country. Here your fathers, and mine,
     one hundred years ago, declared themselves free of the
     British crown. I need not refer to the events since. In
     intelligence, wealth and power, we are ahead of the world.
     Right here I must tell you that the fame of the Mecklenburg
     Declaration belongs not to the people of Mecklenburg alone,
     nor to the State of North Carolina, but its fame belongs to
     Indiana as well--in fact, to all the States of the Union. I
     claim a common participation in the glory of this great
     event. They were not only patriots, these Mecklenburgers of
     1775, but they were also wise statesmen. One has but to
     carefully read this Declaration to discern the truth of this
     statement. The resolutions looked to a delegation of powers
     in the Continental Congress for their protection against
     enemies abroad, and all general purposes of nationality, but
     they assert most unequivocally the right of local
     self-government, and all the reserved powers not plainly
     granted to the general government. These old patriots showed
     their wisdom by providing against an interim of anarchy for
     want of lawful officers to protect life and property; so
     they resolved that each military and civil officer under the
     Provincial government should retain all their authority. I
     ask the people of North Carolina to join with us in the
     National celebration, to take place in Philadelphia in 1876.
     Shall I see North Carolina represented there? (Cries of yes!
     yes!) What a lesson it will be to the whole country! The
     troubles of the war can be yet settled by a system of good

Other speakers indulged in similar patriotic sentiments.

After the speaking was over on Centennial night, the Mayor (Colonel
Johnston) ascended the stand, and congratulated the large audience
upon the excellent order and good feeling which had prevailed from the
beginning to the end of the exercises. He thanked those present for
their attendance and participation in the honors and festivities of
the occasion.

Then commenced the pyrotechnical display which had been witnessed to
some extent during the intervals of the addresses. The "rocket's red
glare," without the "bombs bursting in air," gave proof _on that
night_ our people were there. The streets, and the houses in the
vicinity were never before so handsomely illuminated, and a brilliant
and appropriate closing scene of "the day we celebrate" conspicuously
displayed on a broad waving banner. Hundreds of the descendants of the
patriots of Mecklenburg, and surrounding country, were present, as
well as a goodly number of descendants of kindred spirits from the
Cape Fear region, whose ancestors proved themselves "rebels" by
_stamping underfoot the stamp paper_ intended for the use of the
Colony--an act "worthy of all Roman, or Grecian fame." The celebration
of the 20th of May, 1875, was a grand success--such a celebration as
has never before occurred in the history of North Carolina, and will
never again be witnessed by the present generation. May the Centennial
of the 20th of May, 1975, be still more successful, pass off with the
same degree of order and good feeling, and be attended with all the
blessings of enlightened civil and religious liberty!


Among the honored invited guests of the Mecklenburg Centennial, on the
20th of May, 1775, was James Belk, of Union county (formerly a part of
Mecklenburg), now upwards of one hundred and ten years old! As
recorded in a family Bible, printed in Edinburg in 1720, he was born
on the 4th of February, 1765. He still resides on the same tract of
land upon which he was born and raised, his father being one of the
original settlers of the country. He is a man of fine intelligence;
acted for many years as one of the magistrates of Mecklenburg county,
and is still well preserved in mind and body. He recollects the death
of his father, who was mortally wounded in the Revolutionary war, near
the North Carolina line, and knows that his mother, fearing the
mournful result, visited the place of conflict, and found him,
severely wounded, in the woods near the road-side. She assisted him to
their home, but soon afterward had him transferred to the residence of
his grandfather for better attention, where he died.

He remembers distinctly the great meeting in Charlotte (then upwards
of ten years old) on the 20th of May, 1775, when a Declaration of
Independence was read by Colonel Polk, and heard his father speak of
it, in presence of the family, after his return from Charlotte. His
mother seemed to be greatly disturbed, supposing it would bring on
war. Although then but a youth of tender years, the _scene_ and the
_declaration_ made an indelible impression upon his memory. He says
his recollection of events of that period, and a few years
subsequently, is more vivid and distinct than those which transpired
thirty years ago.

He has been twice married, having ten children by the first, and
twelve by the last wife. He was accompanied to the centennial meeting
by one of his younger sons, a lad _forty-one years_ of age. His oldest
child, a daughter, is still living, aged _eighty-eight years!_ He
named one of his sons Julius Alexander, an intimate friend and junior
schoolmate. As he and Alexander grew up, they frequently heard the two
meetings of the 20th and 31st of May, 1775, spoken of as being
separate and distinct.

Having already attained a longevity seldom allotted to frail humanity,
may continued health, prosperity, and, above all, the consolations of
the Gospel, attend him in his remaining days upon earth!

P.S.--Thus the author wrote soon after the centennial celebration in
Charlotte, on the 20th of May, 1875, but before these sketches go to
the press, he is informed of the death of this veteran and worthy
citizen; passing away calmly and peacefully, at his home in Union
county, N.C. on the 9th of May, 1876, at the extreme old age of _one
hundred and eleven years three months and five days!_


_Abraham Alexander_, the Chairman of the Mecklenburg Convention of the
19th and 20th of May, 1775, was born in 1718, and was an active and
influential magistrate of the county before and after the Revolution,
being generally the honored chairman of the Inferior Court. He was a
member of the popular branch of the Assembly in 1774-'75, with Thomas
Polk as an associate; also one of the fifteen trustees of Queen's
Museum, which institution, in 1777, was transformed into "Liberty Hall

After the involuntary retreat of Josiah Martin, the royal Governor, in
June, 1775, from the State, its government was vested in--1. A
Provincial Council for the whole province. 2. A District Committee of
Safety for each county, of not less than twenty-one persons, to be
elected annually by the people of each county. The members of the
Provincial Council for the Salisbury district were Samuel Spencer and
Waightstill Avery. The members of the District Committee of Safety
were John Brevard, Griffith Rutherford, Hezekiah Alexander, James
Auld, Benjamin Patton, John Crawford, William Hill, John Hamilton,
Robert Ewart, Charles Galloway, William Dent, Maxwell Chambers. The
county committee, elected annually by the people in each county,
executed such orders as they received from the Provincial Council, and
made such rules and regulations as the internal condition of each
county demanded. They met once in three months at the Court-house of
their respective counties, to consult on public measures, to
correspond with other committees, to disseminate important
information, and thus performed the duties and requirements of courts.
The county committees exercised these important functions until
justices of the peace were appointed by the Legislature and duly
commissioned by the Governor.

It was this committee which met in Charlotte on the 31st of May, 1775,
and passed a series of rules and regulations for the internal
government of the county--a necessary sequel, as previously stated, of
the more important meeting of the 20th of May preceding. This
statement is strongly corroborated by a communication published last
summer in the "Charlotte Observer," by D.A. Caldwell, Esq., one of
Mecklenburg's most aged, intelligent and worthy citizens. The portion
of the communication most pertinent to our subject reads thus:

     "I was born and raised in the house of my maternal
     grandfather, Major John Davidson, who was one of the signers
     of the Mecklenburg Declaration. I have often heard him speak
     of the 20th of May, 1775, as the day on which it was signed,
     and the 31st of the same month as the time of an adjourned
     meeting. The '20th of May' was a household word in the
     family. Moreover, I was present (and am now the only
     surviving witness of the transaction) when he gave a
     certificate of the above dates to Dr. Joseph McKnitt
     Alexander, whose father, John McKnitt Alexander, was also a
     signer, and the principal secretary of the meeting. This
     certificate was called forth by the celebrated attempt of
     Thomas Jefferson to throw discredit on the whole affair. A
     certificate to the same effect was given on that occasion by
     Samuel Wilson, a brother-in-law of Major Davidson, and a man
     of undoubted integrity. Mr. Wilson, although not a signer,
     was present at the signing on the 20th of May. I often heard
     my grandfather allude to the date in later years, when he
     lived with his daughter, Mrs. William Lee Davidson, whose
     husband was the son of General Davidson, who fell at Cowan's

Under the administration of Abraham Alexander as Chairman of the
Committee of Safety, the laws passed by that body of vigilant
observers of the common good were strictly enforced; and each citizen,
when he left the county, was required to carry with him a certificate
of his _political standing_, officially signed by the chairman.

Abraham Alexander was a most worthy, exemplary and influential member
of society; was, for many years, a Ruling Elder of the Presbyterian
Church, and lies buried in the graveyard of Sugar Creek Church. On his
gravestone is this brief record:

     "Abraham Alexander,
     Died on the 22nd of April, 1786,
     Aged 68 years."

     "'Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end
     be like his.'"

_Adam Alexander_ was chiefly known by his military services. He was
appointed Lieutenant Colonel of a battalion of minute men, with Thomas
Polk as Colonel, and Charles M'Lean as Major, by the Provincial
Council held at Johnston Court-house, on the 18th of December, 1775;
and Colonel of Mecklenburg county, with John Phifer as Lieutenant
Colonel, and John Davidson and George A. Alexander as Majors, by the
Provincial Congress, held at Halifax on the 4th of April, 1776.

He was a brave and energetic officer; and his name will be found in
nearly every expedition which marched from Mecklenburg county to
oppose the enemies of his country. He was for many years, before and
after the war, an acting Justice of the Peace, and tradition speaks of
him as bearing an excellent character. He died in 1798, aged seventy
years, and is buried in the old graveyard of Rock Spring, seven miles
east of Charlotte. Many of his descendants lie buried in the graveyard
at Philadelphia Church, two miles from Rock Spring, at which latter
place the congregation worshipped before the Revolution, mingling with
their pious devotion many touching and prayerful appeals for the final
deliverance of their country from the storms of the approaching
conflict of arms in a righteous cause.

_Hezekiah Alexander_ was more of a statesman than a soldier. He was
born in Pennsylvania in 1728. He was appointed a member of the
Committee of Safety for the Salisbury district by the Provincial
Congress which met at Hillsboro on the 21st of August, 1775, with
General Griffith Rutherford, John Brevard, Benjamin Patton and
others--a position of much responsibility and power. He was appointed
by the Provincial Congress, in April, 1776, with William Sharpe, of
Rowan county, on the Council of Safety. He was elected a member of the
Provincial Congress from Mecklenburg county, which met at Halifax on
November 12th, 1776, and framed the first Constitution of the State,
with Waightstill Avery, Robert Irwin, John Phifer, and Zaccheus
Wilson, as colleagues. At the Provincial Congress, which met at
Halifax on the 4th of April, 1776, he was appointed Paymaster of the
Fourth Regiment of North Carolina Continentals--Thomas Polk, Colonel,
James Thackston, Lieut. Colonel, and William Davidson, Major. He was
the treasurer of "Liberty Hall Academy" (formerly "Queen's Museum")
during its existence. He died on the 16th of July, 1801, and lies
buried in the graveyard of Sugar Creek Church, of which he had long
been an active and worthy member. The inscription on his tombstone
reads thus:

       "In memory of Hezekiah Alexander,
       Who departed this life July 16th, 1801,
       Aged 73 years."

_John McKnitt Alexander_, of Scotch-Irish ancestors, was born in
Pennsylvania, near the Maryland line, in 1733. He served as an
apprentice to the trade of tailor, and when his apprenticeship
expired, at the age of twenty-one, he emigrated to North Carolina,
joining his kinsmen and countrymen in seeking an abode in the
beautiful champaign between the Yadkin and Catawba rivers--the land of
the deer and the buffalo; of "wild pea-vines" and cane-brakes, and of
peaceful prosperity. In 1759 he married Jane Bain, of the same race,
from Pennsylvania, and settled in Hopewell congregation. Prospered in
his business, he soon became wealthy and an extensive landholder, and
rising in the estimation of his fellow-citizens, was promoted to the
magistracy and the Eldership of the Presbyterian Church. He was a
member of the Provincial Assembly in 1772, and one of the Delegates to
the Convention which met at Hillsboro, on the 21st of August, 1775.

He was also a member of the Provincial Congress, which met at Halifax
on the 4th of April, 1776, with John Phifer and Robert Irwin as
colleagues. In 1777, he was elected the first Senator from Mecklenburg
county, under the new Constitution. He was an active participator in
the Convention of the 19th and 20th of May, 1775, and preserved for a
long time, the records, as being its principal secretary, and the
proper custodian of its papers. He gave copies of its important and
ever-memorable proceedings to Gen. William R. Davie, Dr. Hugh
Williamson, then _professing_ to write a history of North Carolina,
and others. Unfortunately, the original was destroyed in 1800, when
the house of Mr. Alexander was burned, but Gen. Davie's copy has been
preserved. He was one of the Trustees of the "College of Queen's
Museum," the name of which was afterward changed to "Liberty Hall." He
was for many years, a ruling Elder of the Presbyterian Church, and by
his walk and conversation, its firm supporter.

By the east wall of the graveyard at Hopewell Church, is a row of
marble slabs, all bearing the name of Alexander. On one of them, is
this short inscription:

     "John McKnitt Alexander,
     Who departed this life July 10th, 1817,
     Aged 84."

It is a singular fact, that the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration
were all, with perhaps one or two exceptions, members of the
Presbyterian Church. One of them, Rev. Hezekiah J. Balch, was a
Presbyterian preacher, and nine others Elders of that Church, which
may be truly styled, at and before the Revolution, the "nursing mother
of freemen."

_Waightstģll Avery_ was an eminent lawyer, born in the town of Groton,
Connecticut, in 1747, and graduated at Princeton College in 1766.
There were eight brothers of this family, and all true patriots; some
of them were massacred at Fort Griswold, and some perished at Wyoming
Valley. Some of the descendants still reside at Groton, Conn., and
others at Oswego, and Seneca Lake, N.Y. He studied law on the eastern
shore of Maryland, with Littleton Dennis. In 1769, he emigrated to
North Carolina, obtained license to practice in 1770, and settled in
Charlotte. By his assiduity and ability, he soon acquired numerous
friends. He was an ardent advocate of liberty, but not of

In 1778, he married near Newbern, Mrs Leah Frank, daughter of William
Probart, a wealthy merchant of Snow Hill, Md., who died on a visit to
London. He was a member of the Provincial Congress which met at
Hillsboro on the 21st of August, 1775. In 1776, he was a delegate to
the Provincial Congress which met at Halifax to form a State
Constitution, with Hezekiah Alexander, Robert Irwin, John Phifer and
Zaccheus Wilson as colleagues. He was appointed to sign proclamation
bills by this body. On the 20th of July, 1777, with William Sharpe,
Joseph Winston and Robert Lanier, as associates, he made the treaty of
the Long Island of the Holston with the Cherokee Indians. This treaty,
made without an oath, is one that has never been violated. In 1777, he
was elected the first Attorney General of North Carolina.

In 1780, while Lord Cornwallis was encamped in Charlotte, some of the
British soldiery, on account of his well-known advocacy of
independence, set fire to his law office, and destroyed it, with all
his books and papers. In 1781, he moved to Burke county, which he
represented in the Commons in 1783-'84-'85 and '93; and in the Senate
in 1796. He was held in high esteem by all who knew him, and died at
an advanced age, in 1821. At the time of his death he was the
"Patriarch of the North Carolina Bar;" an exemplary Christian, a pure
patriot, and of sterling integrity. He left a son, the late Colonel
Isaac T. Avery, who represented Burke county in the Commons in 1809
and 1810, and three daughters, one of whom married William W. Lenoir;
another, Thomas Lenoir, and the remaining one, Mr. Poor, of Henderson

_Rev. Hezekiah J. Balch_ was born at Deer Creek, Harford county, Md.,
in 1748. He was said to be the brother of Col. James Balch, of
Maryland, and the uncle of the late distinguished Rev. Stephen B.
Balch, D. D., of Georgetown, D. C. He graduated at Princeton in 1766,
when not quite eighteen years old, in the class with Waightstill
Avery, Luther Martin, of Maryland, Oliver Ellsworth, of Connecticut,
and others. He came to North Carolina in 1769, as a missionary, being
appointed for this work by the Synod of New York and Philadelphia.
Although ordained before the war, he served four years as Captain of a
company in Maryland, under General Somerville. Soon after this
service, he removed to North Carolina, and settled on "Irish Buffalo
Creek," in Cabarrus county. He was the first Pastor of Rocky River and
Poplar Tent Churches, where he continued to faithfully labor in the
cause of his Divine Master, until the time of his death. Abundant in
every good word and work, he took an active part in moulding the
popular mind for the great struggle of the approaching Revolution. He
combined in his character, great enthusiasm with unflinching firmness.
He looked to the achievement of principles upon which a government of
well-regulated law and liberty could be safely established, and which
should be removed from its strong foundations no more forever. Hence,
he was a prominent actor in the Convention at Charlotte on the 19th
and 20th of May, 1775, which declared independence of the British
crown. But in the inscrutable ways of Providence, he did not live long
enough to see the warmest wish of his heart gratified--the
independence of his country, for which he was ready, if necessary, to
yield up his life in its achievement. He died in the spring of 1776,
in the midst of his usefulness, and his mortal remains repose in the
old graveyard of Poplar Tent Church.

On the occasion of a railroad meeting at Poplar Tent Church in 1847,
attention was called to the fact that no monument of any kind marked
the grave of this eminent divine and patriot; whereupon, a voluntary
subscription was immediately made, and the necessary funds promptly
raised to build a suitable monument to his memory. Fortunately, Abijah
Alexander, then ninety years of age, was still living, a worthy
citizen, and long a member of Poplar Tent Church, who was present at
the burial of his beloved pastor, and who could point out the precise
spot of sepulture, near the centre of the old graveyard. The following
is a copy of the inscription over his grave:

     "Beneath this marble are the mortal remains of the Rev.
     Hezikiah J. Balch, first pastor of Poplar Tent congregation,
     and one of the original members of Orange Presbytery. He was
     licensed a preacher of the everlasting gospel, of the
     Presbytery of Donegal in 1766, and rested from his labors
     A.D. 1776; having been pastor of the united congregations of
     Poplar Tent and Rocky River, about seven years. He was
     distinguished as one of the Committee of Three who prepared
     the Declaration of Independence, and his eloquence, the more
     effectual from his acknowledged wisdom, purity of motive and
     dignity of character, contributed much to the unanimous
     adoption of that instrument on the 20th of May, 1775."

_Dr. Ephraim Brevard_, the reputed author of the Mecklenburg
Declaration of Independence, proclaimed on the 20th of May, 1775, was
born in Maryland in 1744. He came with his parents to North Carolina
when about four years old. He was the son of John Brevard, one of the
earliest settlers of Iredell, then Rowan, county, and of Huguenot
descent. At the conclusion of the Indian war in 1761, he and his
cousin, Adlai Osborne, were sent to a grammar school in Prince Edward
county, Va. About a year later, he returned to North Carolina and
attended a school of considerable notoriety in Iredell county,
conducted successively by Joseph Alexander, (a nephew of John McKnitt
Alexander) David Caldwell, then quite young, and Joel Benedict, from
the New England States. Adlai Osborne, Ephraim Brevard and Thomas
Reese (a brother of David Reese, one of the signers), graduated at
Princeton College in 1768, and greatly contributed by talents and
influence to the spread and maintenance of patriotic principles. Soon
after graduation, Ephraim Brevard commenced the study of medicine
under the celebrated Dr. Alexander Ramsey, of South Carolina, a
distinguished patriot and historian of the Revolutionary war.

In 1776, Dr. Brevard joined the expedition of General Rutherford in
his professional capacity, during the Cherokee campaign. Soon after
this service he settled in Charlotte, where he married a daughter of
Col. Thomas Polk, and rapidly rose to eminence in his profession. He
had one child, Martha, who married Mr. Dickerson, the father of the
late James P. Dickerson, a Lieutenant-Colonel in the South Carolina
regiment in the Mexican war, and who died from a wound received in a
battle near the City of Mexico. After the death of his beloved and
youthful wife, Dr. Brevard again entered the Southern army, as
"surgeon's mate," or assistant surgeon, under General Lincoln, in
1780, and was made a prisoner at the surrender of Charleston.

While engaged as one of the teachers in the Queen's Museum he raised a
company, from the young men of that institution, to assist in putting
down the Tories assembled on Cape Fear River. Of this company he was
made captain. They marched immediately in the direction of Cross Creek
(Fayetteville), but, on learning of the dispersion of the Tories, they
returned home. Inheriting from his family a devotion to liberty and
independence, he early became distinguished for his patriotic ardor
and decision of character. He was a fine scholar, fluent writer, and
drew up the resolutions of independence which the Convention of the
20th of May, 1775, adopted, with very slight alteration, acting as one
of the secretaries. During his confinement in Charleston, as a
prisoner of war, he suffered so much from impure air and unwholesome
diet that his health gave way, and he returned home only to die. He
reached the house of his friend and fellow patriot, John McKnitt
Alexander, in Mecklenburg county, where he soon after breathed his
last. He lies buried in Charlotte, in the lot now owned by A.B.
Davidson, Esq., near the grave of his beloved wife, who, a short time
before, preceded him to the tomb. Upon this lot was located the
Queen's Museum College, receiving, in 1777, the more patriotic name of
"Liberty Hall Academy." Within its walls were educated a Spartan band
of young men, who afterward performed a noble part in achieving the
independence of their country.

_Richard Barry_ was born in Pennsylvania, of Scotch-Irish descent, and
joining the great southern emigration of that period, he settled in
Mecklenburg county, in the bounds of the Hopewell congregation, many
years previous to the Revolution. In this vicinity he married Ann
Price, and raised a numerous family. A.M. Barry, Esq., who now (1876)
resides at the old homestead, is the only surviving grandson. Mrs.
A.A. Harry, Mrs. G.L. Sample and Mrs. Jane Alexander, are the only
surviving grand-daughters. He acted for many years as one of the
magistrates of the county, and was a worthy and useful member of
society. He was a true patriot and soldier, and was present at the
affair of Cowan's Ford, when General Davidson was killed, on the 1st
of February, 1781. After this short conflict he, David Wilson and a
few others, secured the body of General Davidson, conveyed it to the
house of Samuel Wilson, Sen., where, after being properly dressed, it
was moved by these devoted patriots to the graveyard of Hopewell
Church, and there buried by _torch-light_.

_John Davidson_ was born in Pennsylvania in 1736. He performed much
civil and military service to secure the independence of his country.
He was appointed by the Provincial Congress, which met at Halifax on
the 4th of April, 1776, a field officer (Major) with Adam Alexander as
Colonel, John Phifer as Lieutenant Colonel, and George A. Alexander as
second Major. He was with General Sumpter in August, 1780, at the
battle of the Hanging Rock, and was a General in the State militia
service. He was enterprising, and successful in business. With
Alexander Brevard, and Joseph Graham, his sons-in-law, he established
Vesuvius Furnace and Tirza Forge iron works in Lincoln county. He
married Violet, daughter of Samuel Wilson, Sr., and raised a large
family. His daughter, Isabella, married Joseph Graham; Rebecca married
Alexander Brevard; Violet married William Bain Alexander, son of John
McKnitt Alexander; Elizabeth married William Lee Davidson, son of
General Davidson, who fell at Cowan's Ford; Mary married Dr. William
McLean; Sallie married Alexander Caldwell, son of Rev. David Caldwell,
of Guilford county; Margaret married Major James Harris. He had only
two sons, John (or "Jackey") and Robert; John married Sallie Brevard,
daughter of Adam Brevard; Robert married Margaret Osborne, daughter of
Adlai Osborne, grandfather of the late Judge James W. Osborne, of

Major Davidson's residence was about one mile east of Toole's Ford, on
the Catawba river. A large Elm, of his own planting, is now growing in
front of the old family mansion, with over-arching limbs, beneath
whose beneficent shade the old patriot could quietly sit in summer,
(_sub tegmine patulę ulmi_) whilst surrounded with some of his
children, grand-children, and other blessings to cheer his earthly
pilgrimage to the tomb.

_Robert Irwin_ was a distinguished officer, and performed important
military service during the Revolutionary War. In 1776, he and William
Alexander each, commanded a regiment under General Rutherford, in the
expedition from Mecklenburg, Rowan, Lincoln, and other counties, to
subdue the Cherokee Indians, who were committing murders and numerous
depredations upon the frontier settlements.

After the fall of Charleston many of the unsubdued Whigs sought
shelter in North Carolina. Early in July, 1780, General Sumter had
taken refuge in Mecklenburg county, and having enlisted a considerable
number of brave and dashing recruits in that chivalric region,
returned to South Carolina prepared for new and daring exploits. Soon
thereafter, accompanied by Colonels Neal, Irwin, Hill and Lacy, he
made a vigorous assault against the post of Rocky Mount, but failed in
reducing it for the want of artillery. After this assault General
Sumter crossed the Catawba, and marched with his forces in the
direction of Hanging Rock. In the engagement which took place there,
and, in the main successful, the right was composed of General Davie's
troops, and some volunteers under Major Bryan; the centre consisted of
Colonel Irwin's Mecklenburg Militia, which made the first attack; and
the left included Colonel Hill's South Carolina Regulars.[G] In 1781
Colonel Irwin commanded a regiment under General Rutherford, in the
Wilmington campaign. He was a delegate to the Provincial Congress,
which met at Halifax, on the 4th of April, 1776, with John McKnitt
Alexander and John Phifer as colleagues. He was again a delegate to
the Provincial Congress which met at Halifax, on the 12th of November,
1776, which body formed our first Constitution. His last civil
services were as Senator from Mecklenburg county, in 1797,-'98-'99 and
1800. For many years he was a worthy and influential Elder of the
Presbyterian Church at Steele Creek. He died on the 23rd of December,
1800, aged sixty-two years.

_William Kennon_ was an early and devoted friend of liberty. He was an
eminent lawyer, resided in Salisbury, and had a large practice in the
surrounding counties. He was one of the prominent advocates for
_absolute independence_ at the Convention in Charlotte, on the 19th
and 20th of May, 1775. He, with Mr. Willis, a brother-in-law, Adlai
Osborne, and Samuel Spencer (afterward Judge Spencer), took an active
part in arresting two obnoxious lawyers, John Dunn and Benjamin Booth
Boote, preceding the Revolution, in giving utterance to language
inimical to the cause of American independence.

They were conveyed to Charlotte for trial, and being found guilty of
conduct inimical to the American cause, they were transported to
Camden, S.C., and finally to Charleston, beyond the reach of their
injurious influence. Colonel Kennon was a member of the first Congress
which met at Newbern on the 25th of August, 1774, in opposition to
royalty, and "fresh from the people," with Moses Winslow and Samuel
Young as colleagues. He was also a delegate to the same place in
April, 1775, with Griffith Rutherford and William Sharpe as
colleagues; and to the Provincial Congress at Hillsboro, in August,
1775, associated with William Sharpe, Samuel Young and James Smith. In
1776, he was appointed commissary of the first regiment of State
troops. He was ever active and faithful in the discharge of his
duties. Soon after the Revolutionary war he moved to Georgia, where he
died at a good old age.

_Benjamin Patton_ was one of the earliest settlers in the eastern part
of Mecklenburg county (now Cabarrus). He was a man of iron firmness
and of indomitable courage. Descended from the blood of the
Covenanters, he inherited their tenacity of purpose, sagacity of
action and purity of character. He was an early and devoted friend of

He was a delegate to the Provincial Congress which met at Newbern on
the 25th of August, 1774. This was the first meeting of
representatives direct from the people. The royal Governor, Josiah
Martin, issued his proclamation against its assembling, as being
without legal authority. It constitutes an illustrious epoch in our
colonial history, transpiring nearly two years before Congress _would
dare to pass_ a national declaration. Although it was not a battle, or
conflict of arms, yet it was the first and leading act in a great
drama, in which battles and blood were the _direct and inevitable
consequences_. Had Governor Martin the power at that time, he would
have seized every member of this "rebellious" body and tried them for
treason. In this dilemma, he summoned his ever obsequious Council for
consultation, who, becoming alarmed at the "signs of the times,"
declared "nothing could be done."

Tradition informs us that Mr. Patton, not being able to procure a
horse, or any conveyance, walked all the way from Charlotte to
Newbern, about three hundred miles rather than not be present to vote
with those determined on _liberty_ or _death_. Although then advanced
in years, he showed all the enthusiasm of youth. At the Provincial
Congress which met at Hillsboro on the 21st of August, 1775, he was
appointed Major of the second Continental regiment, with Robert Howe
as Colonel, and Alexander Martin as Lieutenant Colonel. Of his
military record, in such high position, little is known, but we find
him acting as a member of the Committee of Safety for Mecklenburg
county, with very full powers, associated with John Paul Barringer and
Martin Phifer. They were a "terror unto evil doers." He was a man of
considerable learning, of ardent temperament, and of Christian
integrity. He died near Concord, in Cabarras county, at a good old
age, and is buried on the banks of Irish Buffalo Creek. No monument
marks his grave:

     "They carved not a line, they raised not a stone.
     But left him alone in his glory."

_John Phifer_ was born in Cabarrus county (when a part of Bladen) in
1745. He was the son of Martin Phifer, a native of Switzerland, and of
Margaret Blackwelder. He raised a numerous family, who inherited the
patriotic spirit of their ancestors. The original spelling of the name
was _Pfeifer_. He resided on "Dutch Buffalo" Creek, at the Red Hill,
known to this day as "Phifer's Hill." He was the father of General
Paul Phifer, grandfather of General John N. Phifer of Mississippi, and
great grandfather of General Charles H. Phifer, a distinguished
officer in the battle of "Shiloh," in the late war between the States.
At the Provincial Council, held at Johnston Court House in December,
1775, he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the first battalion of
"Minute Men," in the Salisbury District; General Griffith Rutherford,
Colonel, and John Paisley, Major. He was a member of the Provincial
Congress which met at Hillsboro on the 21st of August, 1775,
associated with Thomas Polk, Waightstill Avery, James Houston, Samuel
Martin and John McKnitt Alexander; and also of the Congress which met
at Halifax on the 4th of April, 1776, with Robert Irwin and John
McKnitt Alexander.

By this latter body, he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the
regiment commanded by Colonel Adam Alexander. He was also a member of
the Provincial Congress which met at Halifax in November, 1776, which
formed our first Constitution, associated with Hezekiah Alexander,
Waightstill Avery, Robert Irwin and Zaccheus Wilson, as colleagues. He
married Catharine Barringer, which latter name was originally spelled

It was on the plantation of John Phifer, three mile west of Concord,
that the gallant band of "Black Boys," headed by Captain 'Black Bill
Alexander' of Sugar Creek, aided by the Whites and others from the
neighboring congregation of Rocky River, effected their memorable
achievement in 1771, of destroying the king's powder, which was on its
way from Charleston to Hillsboro to be used by a tyrannical Governor.
The reader should bear in mind this _blackening of faces_, to prevent
detection, was in the spring of 1771, when the patriotic sentiment of
this country had not ripened into that state of almost entire
unanimity which characterized it, and the State generally, four years
later. John Phifer filled an early grave, and lies buried at the "Red
Hill," on the Salisbury road, where a decaying headstone, scarcely
legible, marks the last resting-place of this true patriot.

Thomas Polk is a name of historic distinction in North Carolina, as
well as in our nation. He was the early, constant, and enduring friend
of liberty, and the unfaltering opponent of arbitrary power and
oppression. He was a member of the Colonial Assembly in 1771 and 1775,
associated with Abraham Alexander from Mecklenburg. In 1775, he was
appointed Colonel of the second battalion of "Minute Men," with Adam
Alexander as Colonel, and Charles McLean as Major.

As Colonel of the Mecklenburg militia, he issued orders to the
Captains of the several _beats_, or districts, to send two delegates
each to the Convention in Charlotte on the 19th of May, 1775. This act
alone, proceeding from patriotic motives, entitles him to our
gratitude. In accordance with orders, and the anticipated discussion
of political measures affecting the welfare of the country, a vast
concourse of delegates, and of the citizens generally, from all parts
of the country, as well as from the adjoining counties of Anson, Rowan
and Tryon (afterward Lincoln) assembled on the appointed day--such a
gathering as had never before met in Charlotte, preceding, or during
the Revolution. It was not a small assemblage, like that of the 31st
of the same month, composed entirely of the Committee of Safety, met
for the purpose of passing such rules and regulations as the internal
government of the county demanded.

At the Provincial Congress which met at Halifax on the 4th of April,
1776, he was appointed Colonel of the fourth regiment of Continental
troops, with James Thackson as Lieutenant-Colonel, and William
Davidson as Major. The last named officer was afterward appointed a
Brigadier General, and was killed while disputing the passage of
Cornwallis at Cowan's Ford, on the 1st of February, 1781. After the
death of General Davidson, he was appointed Brigadier General in his
stead. When General Greene took command of the Southern army in
Charlotte on the 3rd of December, 1780, the commissary department was
left vacant by the resignation of Colonel Polk. At the earnest
solicitation of General Greene, Colonel Davie was induced to accept
the position, an ungracious and troublesome office at any time, but
then attended with peculiar difficulties, as the country had been
lately devastated and stripped of its usual resources by a large
invading army.

Colonel Thomas Polk married Susan Spratt, and left several children.
He died in 1793, full of years and full of honors, and his mortal
remains repose in the graveyard of the Presbyterian Church in

William Polk, son of Colonel Thomas Polk, was born in 1759, and was
present at the Mecklenburg Convention of the 19th and 20th of May,
1775. He commenced his military career with his father in the
expedition against the Scovillite Tories, in upper South Carolina, in
the autumn of 1775. He was with General Nash when he fell at
Germantown; with General Davidson, at Cowan's Ford; with General
Greene, at Guilford Court House; and with the same officer at Eutaw
Springs. In the last named battle he was severely wounded, the effects
of which he carried with him to his grave. When the war closed, he
held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He settled in Charlotte, his
place of nativity, and represented Mecklenburg county in the Commons
in 1787-'90, and '91. Soon thereafter he removed to Raleigh, where he
spent the remainder of his life. He was the last surviving field
officer of the North Carolina line. He died on the 14th of January,
1835, in the seventy-sixth year of his age. He was the father of
Bishop Leonidas Polk, a brave and meritorious officer, killed in the
late civil war, while holding the position of Major General; of the
late Thomas G. Polk, of Tennessee, and of Mrs. Rayner, wife of the
Hon. Kenneth Rayner, of Washington City.

Ezekiel Polk, one of the older brothers of Colonel Thomas Polk, was
the first clerk of the county court of Lincoln, after its separation
from Mecklenburg in 1768; a Magistrate of Mecklenburg county at a
later period; and was a man of considerable wealth and influence,
owning much of the valuable lands around "Morrow's Turnout," now the
flourishing village of "Pineville." He was the grandfather of James K.
Polk, President of the United States in 1845, some of whose noblest
traits of character were illustrated in _refusing to serve a second
term_ and in being _never absent from his post of duty_. Well would it
be for the best interests of our Republic if other occupants of the
"White House" would imitate his noble example.

_Zaccheus Wilson_, was one of three brothers who moved from
Pennsylvania and settled in Mecklenburg county about 1760. At the time
of the Mecklenburg Convention on the 19th and 20th of May, 1775, he
signed that instrument, pledging himself and his extensive family
connections to its support and maintenance. He was said to be a man of
liberal education, and very popular in the county in which he resided.
He was a member of the Convention which met at Halifax on the 12th of
November, 1776, to form a State Constitution, associated with
Waightstill Avery, John Phifer, Robert Irwin and Hezekiah Alexander.

The Wilsons were Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, and were arrayed by early
education, civil and religious, against tyranny in any form. The
eldest brother, Robert Wilson, who lived for many years in Steele
Creek congregation, was the father of eleven sons, seven of whom were
at one time (all who were old enough) in the Revolutionary army.
Shortly after the Revolution, Zaccheus Wilson moved to Sumner county,
Tennessee, and there died at an advanced age.

_Ezra Alexander_ was a son of Abraham Alexander, the President of the
Mecklenburg Convention of the 20th of May, 1775. He and William
Alexander each commanded a company in Colonel William Davidson's
battalion, under General Rutherford, against the Tories assembled at
Ramsour's Mill, near the present town of Lincolnton. He was also
engaged in other military expeditions during the war, whenever the
defence of the country demanded his services.

_Charles Alexander_ and _John Foard_, two of the signers, served as
privates in Captain Charles Polk's company of "Light Horse" in 1776,
in the Wilmington campaign, and in other service during the war. John
Foard was, for many years, one of the magistrates of Mecklenburg
county, and both have descendants living among us.

_David Reese_ was a son of William Reese, a worthy citizen of Western
Rowan (now Iredell county), who died in April, 1808, aged _ninety-nine
years_, and brother of the Rev. Thomas Reese, whose ministerial labors
were chiefly performed in Pendleton District, S.C., where he ended his
days, and is buried in the Stone Church graveyard.

_James Harris_ was from Eastern Mecklenburg (now Cabarrus county), a
neighborhood universally holding Whig principles. He was the Major in
Colonel Robert Irwin's regiment at the battle of the Hanging Rock, and
elsewhere performed important services during the war. Next to the
Alexanders the name Harris was most prevalent in Mecklenburg county
preceding the Revolution, and both still have numerous worthy
descendants among us to perpetuate the fair name and fame of their
distinguished ancestors.

_Matthew McLure_, one of the signers, was an early and devoted friend
of liberty. Some of his worthy descendants are still living among us.
Other descendants of the same patriotic family reside in Chester
county, S.C. One of his daughters married George Houston, who, with a
Spartan band of twelve or thirteen brave spirits, under Captain James
Thompson, beat back a British foraging party of over four hundred
soldiers, at McIntyre's Branch, on the Beattie's Ford road, seven
miles north-west of Charlotte. His son, Hugh Houston, served
throughout the Revolutionary war. The rifle used on that occasion by
George Houston is still in possession of the family. His son, M.M.
Houston, Esq., of Hopewell congregation, is one of the few grandsons
now living of the original signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration.

_William Graham_, an Irishman by birth, was one of the early advocates
of liberty in Mecklenburg county. He was intelligent and highly
respected by all who knew him. He lived on the plantation now owned by
Mrs. Potts, about four miles south-east of Beattie's Ford, on the
public road leading to Charlotte, where he died at a good old age.

It is hoped others will prosecute this branch of historical research,
here imperfectly sketched, supply omissions, and favor the public with
the result of their investigations. In this Centennial year it is
pleasant and profitable to revert to the deeds of noble daring and
lofty patriotism of our forefathers, and strive to emulate their
illustrious examples.


The name, Alexander, is of frequent mention among the nobility of
Scotland. About the year 1735 John Alexander married Margaret Gleason,
a "bonnie lassie" of Glasgow, and shortly afterward emigrated to the
town of Armagh, in Ireland. About 1740, wishing to improve more
rapidly his worldly condition, he emigrated with his rising family,
two nephews, James and Hugh Alexander, and their sister, who was
married to a Mr Polk, to America, and settled in Nottingham, Chester
county, Pa. These two nephews, and their brother-in-law, Polk, soon
afterward emigrated to Mecklenburg county, North Carolina, then
holding forth flattering inducements for settlement. These families,
of Scotch-Irish descent, there prospered in their several callings,
and early imbibed those principles of civil and religious liberty
which stamped their impress on themselves and their descendants, and
shone forth conspicuously preceding and during the American

About the time of this emigration of the Alexanders to North Carolina,
John Alexander moved to Carlisle, Cumberland county, Pa. While he
resided there his son James (James the first) married "Rosa Reed," of
that place. Soon after his marriage he left Carlisle, and settled on
"Spring Run," having purchased a tract of land which covered "Logan's
Springs," where the celebrated Mingo chief, Logan, then lived. After
Logan's death he moved to the Springs, which valuable property is
still owned by the Alexander heirs.

John Alexander, partaking of the roving spirit of the age, left
Carlisle, and finally settled in Berkeley county, Va., where he
purchased a large farm, and spent the remainder of his days. His son
James had twelve children, seven sons and five daughters. One of his
daughters, Rachel, married Joseph Vance, of Virginia, the ancestor of
ex-Governor Vance, of Ohio, and other descendants. He gave Vance a
farm of three hundred acres as an inducement to settle near him. Vance
accepted the gift, and soon afterward removed to the farm; but Indian
troubles breaking out at that time, he sold his possession and
returned to Virginia, selecting a location near Martinsburg.

James Alexander (James the second) had four sons and six daughters.
The eldest son (James the third) married his cousin Celia, youngest
daughter of Robert Alexander, of whom was a descendant, Robert
Alexander (perhaps a son), a captain in the Revolution, who married
Mary Jack, third daughter of Patrick Jack, of Charlotte, and settled
in Lincoln county, where he died in 1813.

James Porterfield Alexander (James the fourth), and son of James the
third, married Annie Augusta Halsey, grand-daughter of the Hon.
Jeremiah Morton, and resides, in this centennial year, on the St.
Cloud plantation, Rapidan Station, Culpeper county, Va.

Hugh Alexander, son of James the first, married Martha Edmundson,
settled in Sherman's Valley, Pa., and had a large family. He died at
Independence Hall, Philadelphia, while sitting as a member to form a
State Constitution.

Another prolific source of the Alexanders in America is traceable to
the descendants of seven brothers, who fled from Scotland, on account
of political troubles, to the north of Ireland, and passing through
the Emerald Isle, sailed for America, and landed in New York in 1716.
One of their descendants was William Alexander, born in New York in
1720, a son of James Alexander, of Scotland. He became a distinguished
officer in the Revolutionary war, known as "Lord Stirling." He married
a daughter of Philip Livingston (the second lord of the manor), a
sister of Governor Livingston, of New Jersey.

From these prolific sources (Scotch and Scotch-Irish) North Carolina,
and other States of the American Union, have received their original
supplies of Alexanders, embracing, in their expansion, many
distinguished names.

In the list of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of the 20th
of May, 1775, six bear the name of Alexander, and a _host_ of others,
officers and privates, honored the name in their heroic achievements
during the Revolutionary war. Two of the distinguished teachers in
Rowan county, preceding the Revolution, were James Alexander and
Robert Brevard.

It is also worthy of mention that one of the _twenty-six_ persons who
met in Charleston, in the fall of 1766, after the repeal of the Stamp
Act, under the leadership of that early patriot, General Christopher
Gadsden, rejoiced under the duplicated name of _Alexander Alexander_.
He had strayed off from the paternal roof in North Carolina, and was
employed there in the honorable calling of schoolmaster. Johnson, in
his "Traditions and Reminiscences," thus speaks favorably of his
eminent worth:

     "Alexander Alexander was a school-master of high character
     and popularity. He was a native of Mecklenburg, North
     Carolina, and educated in the Whig principles of that
     distinguished district."


At the commencement of the Revolutionary War, one of the worthy and
patriotic citizens of the little town of Charlotte, in Mecklenburg
county, N.C., was Patrick Jack. He was a native of Ireland, and
emigrated to America, with several brothers, about 1730. He married
Lillis McAdoo, of the same race, who is represented to have been, by
all who knew her, as "one of the best of women," having an amiable
disposition, frequently dispensing charities to the poor, and truly
pious. Her Christian name, _Lillis_, in subsequent years, was softened
into _Lillie_, by many of her descendants in adopting it. The descent
of Patrick Jack is traceable to noble ancestors, one of whom was a
ministerial sufferer in the reign of Charles II, in 1661. In that
year, that despotic monarch, who, according to one of his own
satirists, "Never said a foolish thing, nor ever did a wise one,"
ejected from their benefices or livings, under Jeremy Taylor, thirteen
ministers of the Presbytery of Lagan, in the northern part of Ireland,
for their non-conformity to the Church of England. The Puritans of
England were called to the same trial, in August, 1662, and in the
following October, the same scene of heroic suffering was exhibited in

Among the honored names of these thirteen ejected ministers, were
Robert Wilson, ancestor of the Rev. Francis McKemie, who, twenty years
later, was the first Presbyterian preacher that had ever visited the
Western Continent, and near relative of George McKemie, of the Waxhaw
settlement, and a brother-in-law of Mrs. Elizabeth Jackson, the mother
of General Andrew Jackson; Robert Craighead, ancestor of the Rev.
Alexander Craighead, the first settled pastor of Sugar Creek
congregation, the early apostle of civil and religious liberty in
Mecklenburg county, and who ended his days there in 1766; Thomas
Drummond, a near relative of William Drummond, the first royal
Governor of North Carolina; Adam White, ancestor of Hon. Hugh Lawson
White, a native of Iredell county, and William Jack, ancestor of
Patrick Jack, of Charlotte, Charles Jack, of Chambersburg,
Pennsylvania, and others whose descendants are now found in ten or
twelve States of the American Union.

In the list of tax-payers for Chambersburg, Pa, during the latter half
of the last century, the "Chief Burgess," or Mayor of that place,
informs the author the name of Jack (especially John, James, Charles,
and William) is of frequent occurrence; but, at the present time, not
one of the name is to be found there. One of these, (James) probably a
nephew of Patrick and Charles Jack, served five years with distinction
in the Revolutionary army, and others are traditionally spoken of as
actively engaged in the same patriotic duty. Several of the elder
members of the family are buried in the graveyard of Chambersburg,
others in Williamsport, Md., and elsewhere in western Pennsylvania.

Several years previous to the Revolution, there also came over from
the north of Ireland to America, at least two brothers of the name of
Jack, distant relatives of Patrick and Charles Jack, and settled in
western Pennsylvania. When the county town of Westmoreland
(Hannastown) was burned by the Indians in 1783, one of this family
distinguished himself by saving the lives of the women and children.
After the burning of that place, the name of the town was changed to
Greensburg, and a new location selected on land donated by William
Jack, who had become quite wealthy, and one of the Associate Judges of
Westmoreland county. He had five sons, four of whom died bachelors;
the elder married, but none of his descendants are now (1876) living,
except a grand-son, (William Jack,) who resides near Greensburg, Pa.
The only daughter of Judge William Jack, married _John Cust_, who fled
from Ireland soon after the rebellion in 1798.

About 1760, animated with the hope of more rapidly improving his
worldly condition, Patrick Jack joined the great tide of emigration to
the Southern colonies, and shortly after his arrival in North Carolina
purchased a tract of land between Grant and Second Creeks, in the
Cathey settlement (now Thyatira) in Rowan county. After remaining
there for about two years, he sold his land and moved to the adjoining
county of Mecklenburg. Here, by strict economy and industry, he was
"blest in his basket and his store," and enabled to make more enlarged
possessions. This improvement in his pecuniary condition and
prosperity may be inferred from the fact that in 1775, and a few years
subsequently, he and his eldest son, Capt. James Jack, who, about this
time united in business with his father, became the owners of some of
the finest lots, or rather blocks, in Charlotte. Among the valuable
lots they are recorded as owning, may be briefly named: No. 25, the
present Irwin corner; No. 26, the Parks lot; No. 27, the whole space,
or double block, from the Irwin corner to the Court House lot; No. 29,
the space from the Parks lot to the corner embracing the Brown
property; and several lots on Trade street, opposite the First
Presbyterian Church. On one of these last named lots (the old Elms
property, on the corner next to the Court House) Patrick Jack and his
son Capt. James Jack, resided when the delegates from the militia
districts of the county assembled, on the 19th and 20th of May, 1775,
and kept a public house of entertainment. Here Patrick Jack, on
suitable occasions, was accustomed to "crack" many an Irish joke, to
the infinite delight of his numerous visitors; and by his ready wit,
genial good humor and pleasantry, greatly contributed to the
reputation of his house, and inculcated his own patriotic principles.
The house soon became the favorite place of resort for the students of
the collegiate institute known as "Queen's Museum," and of other
ardent spirits of the town and country, to discuss the political
issues of that exciting period, all foreboding the approach of a
mighty revolution.

Patrick Jack had four sons, James, John, Samuel and Robert, and five
daughters, Charity, Jane, Mary, Margaret and Lillis, named in the
order of their ages. Capt. James Jack, the eldest son, married
Margaret Houston, on the 20th of November, 1766. The Houston family
came South nearly at the same time with the Alexanders, Polks,
Pattons, Caldwells, Wallaces, Wilsons, Clarkes, Rosses, Pattersons,
Browns, and many others, and settled mostly in the eastern part of
Mecklenburg county (now Cabarrus), and in neighborhoods convenient to
the old established Presbyterian churches of the country, under whose
guidance civil and religious freedom have ever found ardent and
unwavering defenders. The late Archibald Houston, who served Cabarrus
county faithfully in several important positions, and died in 1843,
was one of this worthy family.

On the 2nd of October, 1768, Captain James Jack, as stated in his own
family register, moved to his own place, on the head of the Catawba
river, then receiving a considerable emigration. He had five children:
1. Cynthia, born on the 20th of September, 1767. 2. Patrick, born on
the 27th of September, 1769. 3. William Houston, bom on the 6th of
June, 1771. 4. Archibald, born on the 20th of April, 1773 (died
young); and 5. James, born on the 20th of September, 1775.

On the 4th of August, 1772, Captain Jack left his mountain home and
moved to the residence of his father, Patrick Jack, in Mecklenburg
county. On the 16th of February, 1773, he and his father moved from
the country, where they had been temporarily sojourning, into
"Charlotte town," prospered in business, and soon became useful and
influential citizens.

On the 26th of Sept., 1780, Lord Cornwallis, elated with his victory
at Camden, entered Charlotte, with the confident expectation of soon
restoring North Carolina to the British Crown. Patrick Jack was then
an old and infirm man, having given up the chief control of his public
house to his son, Captain James Jack; but neither age nor infirmity
could enlist the sympathies of the British soldiery. The patriotic
character of the house had become extensively known through Tory
information, and its destruction was consequently a "foregone
conclusion." The British soldiers removed its aged owner from the
feather bed upon which he was lying, emptied its contents into the
street, aid then set the house on fire! The reason assigned for this
incendiary act was, "all of old Jack's sons were in the rebel army,"
and he himself had been an active promoter of American independence.

The loss to Patrick Jack of his dwelling-house and much furniture,
accumulated through many years of patient toil and industry, was a
severe one. The excitement of the burning scene, consequent exposure,
and great nervous shock to a system already debilitated with disease,
a few months afterward brought to the grave this veteran patriot. His
aged partner survived him a few years. Both were worthy and consistent
members of the Presbyterian Church, and their mortal remains now
repose in the old graveyard in Charlotte.

By the last will and testament of Patrick Jack, made on the 19th of
May, 1780, he devised the whole of his personal estate and the
"undivided benefit of his house and lots to his beloved wife during
her life-time." After her death they were directed to be sold, and the
proceeds divided among his five married daughters, viz.: Charity
Dysart, Jane Barnett, Mary Alexander, Margaret Wilson and Lillie
Nicholson. James Jack and Joseph Nicholson were appointed executors.
It is related of Dr. Thomas Henderson, a former venerable citizen of
Charlotte, that, on his death-bed, he requested to be buried by the
side of Patrick Jack, "one of the best men he had ever known."

At the Convention of Delegates in Charlotte on the 19th and 20th of
May, 1775, Capt. James Jack was one of the deeply interested
spectators, and shared in the patriotic feelings of that ever
memorable occasion. He was then about forty-three years of age--brave,
energetic and ready to engage in any duty having for its object the
welfare and independence of his country. After the passage of the
patriotic resolutions, elsewhere given in this volume, constituting
the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, Capt. Jack, for his
well-known energy, bravery and determination of character, was
selected to be the bearer of them to Congress, then in session in
Philadelphia. Accordingly, as soon as the necessary preparations for
traveling could be made, he set out from Charlotte on that long,
lonesome and perilous journey, _on horseback_. There were then nowhere
in the American colonies, _stages_ or _hacks_ to facilitate and
expedite the weary traveler. Express messengers were alone employed
for the rapid transmission of all important intelligence. On the
evening of the first day he reached Salisbury, forty miles from
Charlotte, before the General Court, then in session, had adjourned.
Upon his arrival, Colonel Kennon, an influential member of the Court,
who knew the object of Captain Jack's mission, procured from him the
copy of the Mecklenburg resolutions of independence he had in charge,
and read them aloud in open court. All was silence, and all apparent
approval (_intentique ora tenebant_) as these earliest key-notes of
freedom resounded through the hall of the old court house in
Salisbury. There sat around, in sympathizing composure, those sterling
patriots, Moses Winslow, Waightstill Avery, John Brevard, William
Sharpe, Griffith Rutherford, Matthew Locke, Samuel Young, Adlai
Osborne, James Brandon, and many others, either members of the court,
or of the county "Committee of Safety." The only marked opposition
proceeded from two lawyers, _John Dunn_ and _Benjamin Booth Boote_,
who pronounced the resolutions _treasonable_, and said Captain Jack
ought to be detained. These individuals had previously expressed
sentiments "inimical to the American cause." As soon as knowledge of
their avowed sentiments and proposed detention of Captain Jack reached
Charlotte, the patriotic vigilance of the friends of liberty was
actively aroused, and a party of ten or twelve armed horsemen promptly
volunteered to proceed to Salisbury, arrest said Dunn and Boote, and
bring them before the Committee of Safety of Mecklenburg for trial.
This was accordingly done (George Graham, living near Charlotte, being
one of the number), and both being found guilty of conduct inimical to
the cause of American freedom, were transported, first to Camden, and
afterward, to Charleston, S.C. They never returned to North Carolina,
but after the war, it is reported, settled in Florida, and died there,
it is hoped not only repentant of their sins, as all should be, but
with chastened notions of the reality and benefits of American

On the next morning, Captain Jack resumed his journey from Salisbury,
occasionally passing through neighborhoods, in and beyond the limits
of North Carolina, infested with enraged Tories, but, intent on his
appointed mission, he faced all dangers, and finally reached
Philadelphia in safety.

Upon his arrival he immediately obtained an interview with the North
Carolina delegates (Caswell, Hooper and Hewes), and, after a little
conversation on the state of the country, then agitating all minds,
Captain Jack drew from his pocket the Mecklenburg resolutions of the
20th of May, 1775, with the remark:

"Here, gentlemen, is a paper that I have been instructed to deliver
to you, with the request that you should lay the same before Congress."

After the North Carolina delegates had carefully read the Mecklenburg
resolutions, and approved of their patriotic sentiments so forcibly
expressed, they informed Captain Jack they would keep the paper, and
show it to several of their friends, remarking, at the same time, they
did not think Congress was then prepared to act upon so important a
measure as _absolute independence_.

On the next day, Captain Jack had another interview with the North
Carolina delegates. They informed him that they had consulted with
several members of Congress, (including Hancock, Jay and Jefferson,)
and that all agreed, while they approved of the patriotic spirit of
the Mecklenburg resolutions, it would be premature to lay them
officially before the House, as they still entertained some hopes of
reconciliation with England. It was clearly perceived by the North
Carolina delegates and other members whom they consulted, that the
citizens of Mecklenburg county were _in advance_ of the general
sentiment of Congress on the subject of independence; the phantasy of
"reconciliation" still held forth its seductive allurements in 1775,
and even during a portion of 1776; and hence, no record was made, or
vote taken on the patriotic resolutions of Mecklenburg, and they
became concealed from view in the blaze of the National Declaration
bursting forth on the 4th of July, 1776, which only re-echoed and
reaffirmed the truth and potency of sentiments proclaimed in Charlotte
on the 20th of May, 1775.

Captain Jack finding the darling object of his long and toilsome
journey could not be then accomplished, and that Congress was not
prepared to vote on so bold a measure as _absolute independence_, just
before leaving Philadelphia for home, somewhat excited, addressed the
North Carolina delegates, and several other members of Congress, in
the following patriotic words:

     "_Gentlemen, you may debate here about 'reconciliation,' and
     memorialize your king, but, bear it in mind, Mecklenburg
     owes no allegiance to, and is separated from the crown of
     Great Britain forever_."

On the breaking out of hostilities with the mother country, no portion
of the Confederacy was more forward in fulfilling the pledge of "life,
fortune and sacred honor," in the achievement of liberty, previously
made, than Mecklenburg and several adjacent counties. Upon the first
call for troops, Captain Jack entered the service in command of a
company, and acted in that capacity, with distinguished bravery,
throughout the war under Colonels Polk, Alexander, and other officers.
He uniformly declined promotion when tendered, there being a strong
reciprocal attachment between himself and his command, which he highly
appreciated, and did not wish to sunder. At the commencement of the
war he was in "easy" and rather affluent circumstances--at its close,
comparatively a poor man. Prompted by patriotic feelings for the final
prosperity of his county, still struggling for independence, he loaned
to the Slate of North Carolina, in her great pecuniary need, £4,000,
for which, unfortunately, he has never received a cent in return. As a
partial compensation for his services the State paid him a land
warrant, which he placed in the hands of a Mr. Martin, a particular
friend, to be laid at his discretion. Martin moved to Tennessee, and
died there, but no account of the warrant could be afterward obtained.

Soon after the war he sold his house and lots in Charlotte, and moved
with his family to Wilkes county, Ga. Here he is represented, by those
who knew him, as being a "model farmer," with barns well filled, and
surrounded with all the evidences of great industry, order and
abundance. Here, too, he was blest in enjoying for many years the
ministerial instructions of the Rev. Francis Cummins, a distinguished
Presbyterian clergyman, who, at the youthful age of eighteen, joined
his command in Mecklenburg county, and had followed him to his new
home in Georgia--formerly a gallant soldier for his country's rights,
but now transformed into a "soldier of the cross" on Christian duty in
his Heavenly Master's service.

The latter years of Captain Jack's life were spent under the care of
his second son, William H. Jack, long a successful and most worthy
merchant of Augusta, Ga. In 1813 or 1814, Captain Jack moved from
Wilkes to Elbert county, of the same State. There being no
Presbyterian church in reach, of which he had been for many years a
devout and consistent member, he joined the Methodist church, with
which his children had previously united. He was extremely fond of
meeting with old friends, and of narrating incidents of the Revolution
in which he had actively participated, and for its success freely
contributed of his substance. In the serenity of a good old age,
protracted beyond the usual boundaries of life, he cared but little
for things of this world, and took great delight in reading his Bible,
and deriving from its sacred pages those Christian consolations which
alone can yield true comfort and happiness, and cheer the pathway of
our earthly pilgrimage to the tomb. He met his approaching end with
calm resignation, and died on the 18th of December, 1822, in the
ninety-first year of his age. His wife, the partner of his joys and
his sorrows through a long and eventful life, survived him about two
years, and then passed away in peace.

Cynthia Jack, eldest child and only daughter of Capt. James Jack,
married A.S. Cosby, and settled in Mississippi. After his death the
widow and family settled in Louisiana, about 1814. Their descendants
were: 1. Margaret. 2. Cynthia. 3. James; and 4. Dr. Charles Cosby.
Patrick Jack, eldest son of Captain James Jack, was Colonel of the 8th
Regiment U.S. Infantry, in the war of 1812, stationed at Savannah. He
sustained an elevated position in society, frequently represented
Elbert county in the State Senate, and died in 1820. His children
were: 1. Patrick. 2. William II.; and 3. James W. Jack. Patrick Jack,
the eldest son, married Miss Spencer, and, in turn, had two daughters,
Harriet and Margaret, and six sons: 1. James. 2. William II. 3.
Patrick C. 4. Spencer II. 5. Abner; and G. Churchill Jack. Abner died
several years ago in Mississippi--a planter by occupation, and a man
of wealth.

James Jack, eldest son of Col. Patrick Jack, married, in 1822, Ann
Scott Gray, who died in 1838. In 1847, he married Mary Jane
Witherspoon, having by the first wife ten, and by the second, eleven
children, of whom at present (1876) twelve are living. In 1823, he
moved to Jefferson county, Ala., and one year afterward to Hale
county, in the same State, where he ended his days. During the fall of
the last year (1875) the author received from him two interesting
letters respecting the history of his ever-memorable grandfather,
Capt. James Jack, after his removal from North Carolina to Georgia.
But alas! the uncertainty of human life! Before the year closed this
venerable, intelligent, and truly Christian man was numbered with the
dead! He was a successful farmer, the prudent counsellor of his
neighborhood, good to the poor, dispensing his charities with a
liberal hand, and was universally beloved by all who knew him. On the
27th of November he had a severe stroke of paralysis, from which he
never recovered. On the 27th of December, 1875, like a sheaf, ripe in
its season, he was cut down, and gathered to his fathers, quietly
passing away in the seventy-sixth year of his age, with the fond hope
of a blissful immortality beyond the grave.

Churchill Jack, youngest son of Col. Patrick Jack, is a farmer in
Arkansas, and the only one of this family now (1876) living. William
H., Patrick C. and Spencer H. Jack, all young and adventurous spirits,
emigrated from Alabama to Texas in 1831, and cast their lots with the
little American colony which was then just beginning to establish
itself. They were all three lawyers by profession, and took an active
interest and part in the difficulties with Mexico, which were sure to
result in open hostilities and the independence of Texas. Spencer H.
Jack died young and without issue.

Patrick C. Jack played a prominent part in one of the earliest acts
"rebellion" against the Mexican authorities. He, Travis and Edward, at
Anahuac, smarting under the tyranny of the Mexican General, Bradburn,
then commanding the post, denounced and rebelled against his
usurpations and oppression. For this they were seized and imprisoned
by Bradburn, and held as _captive traitors_, until released by a
company of armed Texans, who demanded their _immediate surrender or a
fight_. Bradburn, not having a particular fondness for _leaden
arguments_, and well knowing the message _meant business_, reluctantly
yielded to the stern demand. But this chivalric rescue, as might be
expected, was regarded by Mexico _as treason_, and war soon afterward

After the close of the Mexican war Patrick C. Jack returned to his
profession, which he pursued successfully. At the time of his death,
in 1844, though still a young man, he was one of the Judges of the
Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas. His brother, William H. Jack,
also participated prominently in council, and in the field in the
Revolution of Texas, and served as a private in the battle of San
Jacinto, which sealed the independence of the "Lone Star" Republic. He
achieved distinction in his profession as a lawyer and advocate, and
served repeatedly as Representative and Senator in the Congress of the
young Republic. Under President Burnet's administration he became
Secretary of State. He, too, died in 1844, not having attained his
fortieth year. He left a widow and three children, two of the latter
being daughters. His elder daughter is the wife of Hon. W.P.
Ballinger, of the city of Galveston, lately appointed to the bench of
the Supreme Court of Texas, which position he declined. His second
daughter (now deceased) married the Hon. Grey M. Bryan, of Galveston,
who represented his district in Congress before the war, and was
Speaker of the House of Representatives of Texas in 1875.

Colonel Thomas M. Jack, only son of William H. Jack, and
great-grandson of Captain James Jack, of Mecklenburg memory, is an
eminent lawyer and advocate, also of Galveston (of the firm of
Ballinger, Jack and Mott), to whom the author acknowledges his
indebtedness for many particulars respecting the Texan members of the
Jack family.

William Houston Jack, second son of Captain James Jack, was one of the
first settlers, and successful merchants of Augusta, Ga. After his
withdrawal from the mercantile business, he settled in Wilkes county,
taking care of his aged father and mother until their death. He
married Frances Cummins, a daughter of the Rev. Francis Cummins, one
of the witnesses of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. He
was universally beloved by all who knew him, and sustained through
life a character of unsullied integrity. He left one son, William
Cummins Jack, a teacher by profession, a fine classical scholar, and a
gentleman of culture and great moral worth. He is now (1876) residing
with his second son, William H. Jack, a distinguished lawyer (of the
firm of "Jack and Pierson") of Natchitoches, La. His eldest son, Dr.
Samuel Jack, is an eminent physician, of extensive practice, residing
in Columbia county, Arkansas. Two other sons are industrious farmers,
and all are pursuing successfully their several vocations of life. For
the patriotic services, civil and military, performed by different
members of the Jack family, Texas, in her formation stage, honored one
of her counties with their name.

James W. Jack, third son of Captain James Jack, married Annie Barnett,
a daughter of John Barnett and Ann Spratt. He was a farmer by
profession, of unblemished character, and extensive influence,
residing and ending his days in Wilkes county, Ga. He had the
following children: 1. Samuel T.; 2. Jane; 3. James, (killed at the
massacre of the Alamo, under Col. Faonin) 4. Lillis; 5. Patrick, and
6. Cynthia Jack. Samuel T. Jack married Martha Webster, of
Mississippi; Jane Jack married Dr. James Jarratt; Lillis Jack married
Osborne Edward, Esq., and Patrick Jack married Emily Hanson, of Texas.

John Jack, second son of Patrick Jack, of Charlotte, preceding and
during the Revolutionary War, lived on McAlpine's Creek, in
Mecklenburg county. He performed a soldier's duty during the war, and
soon after its termination, moved to Wilkes county, Ga. Of his further
history and descendants, little is now known.

Samuel Jack, third son of Patrick Jack, of Charlotte, was also a
soldier of the Revolution, and commanded an artillery company. He
lived in the Sugar Creek neighborhood, and married, 1st. Miss Knight,
of Mecklenburg county, by whom he had two children, 1. Eliza D. Jack,
who married the Rev. Mr. Hodge, a Presbyterian minister, and settled
in Athens, Ga., and 2. James Jack, who died when a young man. A few
years after her death, he married Margaret Stewart, of Philadelphia,
Pa., by whom he had five children: 1. Samuel Stewart; 2. John
McCormick; 3. William D.; 4. Mary E., and 5. Amanda M. Jack. Samuel S.
Jack married Elizabeth Meredith, of Walton county, Ga., in 1831. None
of the other children ever married. He had five children: 1. William
Howard; 2. Amanda E.; 3. James Mortimer; 4. Joseph Henry, and 5. Sarah
M. Jack. Of these, William Howard Jack, in 1860, married Mary
Lunsdale, by whom he had five children. He was a printer and editor,
and highly respected by all who knew him. He died in April, 1876, in
Rome, Ga., aged forty-two years. His son, James Mortimer Jack, was
killed in the late war. Amanda E. Jack a worthy lady, is now (1876)
living in the country with her brother, Joseph Henry Jack.

Robert Jack, the fourth and youngest son of Patrick Jack, of
Charlotte, remained in Chambersburg, Pa., where his father had resided
many years previous to his removal to North Carolina. He had the
following children: 1. James; 2. John; 3. Cynthia, and 4. Margaret
Jack. John Jack was the only one of this family who married. He was
born in Chambersburg, on the 29th of December, 1763. At the age of
sixteen, he went to Baltimore, engaged as a clerk in a mercantile
house, and there acquired those correct business habits and
educational training which qualified him for future usefulness. Near
the close of the last, century, when quite a young man, he settled in
Romney, Hampshire county, Va. He there became a successful merchant,
and sustained, through a long and busy life, an unblemished reputation
for honesty, integrity and general uprightness of character. He
married Rebecca Singleton, an estimable lady who survived him a few

In 1823, he was appointed Cashier of the Romney Branch of the Valley
Bank of Virginia, which position he held until his death, with
distinguished ability. The former intelligent Mayor of Romney, (A.P.
White, Esq.,) in writing to the author, says:

     "John Jack, when young, was of a gay and festive
     disposition. After he joined the church, he sobered down to
     great calmness and evenness. He was always exceedingly neat
     in his person, courteous in his manners, and kind and
     charitable to the poor. He bore through life, the character
     of an earnest, honest, and upright man of business, was an
     Elder of the Presbyterian Church, and a good Christian."

He died on the 28th of September, 1837, in the seventy-fourth year of
his age. He had the following children: 1. Robert Y.; 2. Carlton T.;
3. James R.; 4. John; 5. Margaret; 6. Juliette M.; 7. John G., and 8.
Edward W. Jack. The last named son is now (1876) the only one of the
family living. Robert Y. Jack settled in Winchester, Va., and engaged
in merchandising. In the war of 1812, he raised a company which was
stationed at Craney Island, and participated in the battle at that

Robert Y. Jack died near Charleston, Jefferson county, Va., in 1834,
leaving an only child, Frances Rebecca, who married Thomas J. Manning,
of the U.S. Navy. They both died previous to the late Confederate war,
leaving three sons: 1. Charles J.; 2. George Upshur, and 3. Frank Jack
Manning. Each one of these brave youths joined the Confederate army,
all under the age of eighteen years. George Upshur was killed in the
cavalry charge under General Stewart at Brandy Station. Frank Jack was
shot through the body, but recovered of his severe wound and continued
in the army. They all three served under General (Stonewall) Jackson,
through his campaigns, and after his death, under General Early.

John G. Jack settled in Louisville, Ky., and died there, leaving three
daughters and one son, Robert Bruce Jack.

Edward W. Jack, youngest son of John Jack, of Romney, now lives near
Salem, Roanoke county, Va., in the quiet fruition of all that pertains
to an honorable _bachelor's_ life. All the members of this family have
sustained exemplary characters, and now occupy fair and eminent
positions in society.

Charity Jack, eldest daughter of Patrick Jack, of Charlotte, married
Dr. Cornelius Dysart, a distinguished physician and surgeon of the
Revolutionary army. The Dysart family, at that time, resided in
Mecklenburg county. Dr. Dysart is said to have built the first house
on the "Irwin corner," assisted by his brother-in-law, Captain Jack,
who owned the lot until his removal to Georgia, shortly after the war.
Dr. Dysart died comparatively young, leaving a widow and two children,
James and Robert Dysart, who settled in Georgia. Of their subsequent
history little is known. Jane (or "Jean,") Jack, second daughter of
Patrick Jack, married William Barnett, son of John Barnett and Ann
Spratt, of Scotch-Irish descent. The name Spratt is generally spelled
"Sprot," or "Sproat," in the old records. Thomas Spratt is said to
have been the _first person_ who crossed the Yadkin river, _with
wheels_; and his daughter Ann the _first child_ born in the beautiful
champaign country between the Yadkin and Catawba rivers. He first
intended to settle on Rocky River (now in Cabarrus county), but Indian
disturbances occurring there near the time of his arrival, induced him
to select a home in the vicinity of the place which afterward became
the "town of Charlotte." At his humble dwelling, one mile and a half
south of Charlotte, was held the _first Court_ of Mecklenburg county.
Abraham Alexander, the Chairman of the Mecklenburg Convention of the
20th of May, 1775, and Colonel Thomas Polk, its "herald of freedom" on
the same occasion, were then prominent and influential members of this
primitive body of county magistrates. Near the residence of Thomas
Spratt is one of the oldest private burial grounds in the county, in
which his mortal remains repose. Here are found the grave-stones of
several members of the Spratt, Barnett and Jack families, who
intermarried; also those of the Binghams, McKnights, and a few others.
On the head-stone of Mary Barnett, wife of William Barnett, it is
recorded, she died on the 4th of October, 1764, aged forty-five years.
A hickory tree, ten or twelve inches in diameter, is now growing on
this grave, casting around its beneficent shade. The primitive forest
growth, once partially cut down, is here fast assuming its original
sway, and peacefully overshadowing the mortal remains of these early
sleepers in this ancient graveyard.

The descendants of William Barnett and Jane Jack were: 1. Annie
Barnett, married James Jack, third son of Captain James Jack, of
Mecklenburg memory, whose genealogy has been previously given. 2.
Samuel Barnett, married, 1st, Eliza Joyner; descendants: 1. Jane
Barnett, married A.S. Wingfield. 2. Sarah J. Barnett, married
Alexander Pope, Sen. Descendants of Samuel Barnett (second marriage)
and Elizabeth Worsham were: 1. Samuel Barnett (Washington, Ga.),
married Elizabeth A. Stone. Descendants: 1. Annie Barnett, married
Rev. William S. Bean. 2. Frank W. 3. Samuel (Davidson College.) 4.
Osborne S. 5. Edward A. 6. Hattie A.; and 7. Susan Barnett.

The descendants of John Jack and Mary Barnett were: 1. Ann Jack,
married Moses Wiley. 2. Mary A. Jack, married John J. Barnett. 3. Dr.
Thomas Jack. 4. John Jack. 5. Samuel Jack, married Annie Leslie. 6.
Susan Jack, married Alexander Bowie, formerly Chancellor of Alabama.

The descendants of Moses Wiley and Ann Jack were: 1. Leroy M. Wiley.
2. Mary Wiley, married Thomas Baxter. 3. Thomas Wiley. 4. Eliza Wiley,
married Mr. Carnes. 5. Sarah Ann, married John R. Hays. 6. Laird
Wiley; and 7. Jack Wiley.

The descendants of Susan Barnett and George W. Smart were five
children, of whom only two arrived at the years of maturity, Albert W.
and Thomas B. Smart.

George W. Smart represented Mecklenburg county in the House of Commons
in 1805, and again in 1808. He died in May, 1810. Mrs. Smart survived
her husband many years, and was one of the _remarkable women_ of her
age. She was long known and highly esteemed in Mecklenburg and
surrounding country for her general intelligence, ardent piety, and
retentive memories of Revolutionary events. At the great gathering of
delegates and people in Charlotte, on the 20th of May, 1775, she was
present (then thirteen years old), and still retained a distinct
recollection of some of the thrilling scenes of that memorable
occasion, not the least of which was "the throwing up of hats," in the
universal outburst of applause, when the resolutions of independence
were read by Colonel Thomas Polk, from the Court-house steps.

She died on the 28th of November, 1851, aged ninety years, and is
buried, with other members of the family, in a private cemetery on her
own farm, nine miles from Charlotte, on the Camden road. It should be
stated, the grandfather of L.M. Wiley and others, (John Jack) was _a
cousin_ and not a brother, as some have supposed, of Capt. James Jack,
of Charlotte.

Our prescribed limits forbid a more extended genealogical, notice of
the Barnett family and their collateral connections, many of whom
performed a conspicuous part in the Revolutionary War. Capt. William
Barnett was a bold, energetic officer, and was frequently engaged,
with his brothers, and other ardent spirits of Mecklenburg, in that
species of partisan warfare which struck terror into the Tory ranks,
checked their atrocities, and gave celebrity to the dashing exploits
of Col. Sumpter and his brave associates.

Mary Jack, third daughter of Patrick Jack, of Charlotte, married
Captain Robert Alexander, of Lincoln county, who emigrated from
Pennsylvania to North Carolina about 1760. He commanded a company
during the Revolution, in the Cherokee expedition, under General
Rutherford; acted for several years as Commissary, and performed other
minor, but important trusts for the county. He was one of the early
band of patriots who met at Newbern on the 25th of August, 1774, and
again attended the Convention at Hillsboro, on the 21st of August,
1775. After the war, he settled on his farm, one mile northwest of
Tuckasege Ford, on the Catawba River. His residence was long a general
stopping-place for travelers, and painted red--hence, it was widely
known as the "Red House Place."

He was elected to the State Legislature consecutively from 1781 to
1787; and acted, for many years, as one of the magistrates of the
county, showing the general acceptance with which his services were
held. He died in 1813, aged about seventy years, and is buried in
Goshen graveyard, Gaston county, N.C. His descendants by the first
wife, Mary Jack, were: 1. Margaret, married Judge Samuel Lowrie; 2.
Lillis, married Capt. James Martin; 3. Robert W., married Louisa
Moore; 4. Mary, married, 1st. James J. Scott, and 2nd. General John
Moore; 5. Annie, married John Sumter, (nephew of Gen. Sumter.) His
descendants by the second wife, Margaret Reily, were: 1. Eliza 2.
Evaline; 3. Amanda, married Dr. J.C. Rudisill, of Lincolnton.

Descendants of Judge Lowrie and Margaret Alexander were: 1. Mary,
married Dr. David R. Dunlap, of Charlotte; 2. Eliza, died unmarried;
3. Margaret, do.; 4. Lillis, married B. Oates; 5. Robert B., married
Ann Sloan; 6. Samuel, married Mary Johnson.

Margaret Jack, fourth daughter of Patrick Jack, married Samuel Wilson,
of Mecklenburg. (For his descendants, see "Genealogy of Samuel Wilson,

Lillis Jack, the fifth and youngest daughter of Patrick Jack, married
Joseph Nicholson. He left the State, and is reported as having a
family of six children, but of their subsequent history little is

Colonel Patrick Jack, a brave and meritorious officer under the
Colonial Government, and during the Revolutionary war, was the son of
Charles Jack, who lived on the Conococheague river, near Chambersburg,
Pa., and was probably the brother of Patrick Jack, of Charlotte, N.C.,
whose family history has just been given.

Colonel Jack lived an active and adventurous life, and was born about
1730. He was much engaged, when a young man, in assisting to subdue
the Indians in Pennsylvania, and commanded a company of Rangers, under
Generals Braddock and Washington, in the Indian and French war of
1755. He also commanded a regiment, and participated actively in the
Revolutionary War. He was in the Cherokee country many years anterior
to the Revolution.

He was at the massacre of the garrison in Fort London, on the
Tennessee River in 1760, and was one of three persons who survived,
his life having been saved through the influence of the Indian chief,
_Atta-kulla-kulla_, the "Little Carpenter." He had three children;
Mary, Jane, and John Finley Jack. John was educated at Dickinson
College, Carlisle, Pa. He studied law, and emigrated to Knoxville,
then the capital of Tennessee, where he soon acquired eminence, and a
lucrative practice in his profession. He afterward removed to
Rutledge, in Grainger county, East Tennessee, where he associated
himself in the same profession with his brother-in-law, the late
General John Cocke, a son of General William Cocke, one of the
distinguished characters in the early history of Tennessee. He took a
prominent part in the politics of the country, filled the offices of
Circuit Clerk, State's Attorney, served several times in both branches
of the Legislature, and was finally elected Circuit Judge, which
position he held for many years. When the infirmities of old age
impeded his activity and usefulness, he retired from public life to
his plantation near Bean's Station, East Tennessee, where he ended his

He was a profound lawyer, a Judge of great purity of character, of
remarkable discrimination and integrity of purpose, evinced through a
long, useful, and honorable life. He was a hard student, possessed
fine colloquial powers, and was a man of eminent learning and

Judge John F. Jack married Elizabeth, next to the youngest daughter of
General William Cocke, previously mentioned, who was a Captain in the
Revolutionary War, a companion of Daniel Boon from western North
Carolina across the Alleghany mountains to the "wilderness of
Kentucky," a prominent actor in the establishment of the "Frankland
Government," one of the first Senators to Congress from the new State
of Tennessee, and afterward, one of the Circuit Judges of that State.
He served in the Legislatures of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee
and Mississippi. At the advanced age of sixty-five years, he
volunteered in the war of 1812, and distinguished himself for his
personal courage. He died on the 8th of August, 1828, in the
eighty-seventh year of his age, universally lamented, and is buried in
Columbus, Mississippi.

It has been previously stated that Col. Patrick Jack, the father of
Judge John F. Jack, led an active and adventurous life. One of these
adventures will be now narrated.

In Dr. Ramsey's "Annals of Tennessee," page 68, we have this record:

     "A grant, signed Arthur Dobbs, Governor of North Carolina;
     William Beamer, Sen., Superintendent and Deputy Adjutant in
     and for the Cherokee Nation; and William Beamer, Jun.,
     Interpreter; and the 'Little Carpenter,' half king of the
     Cherokee Nation of the over-hill towns; and Matthew Toole,
     Interpreter, made to Captain Patrick Jack, of the province
     of Pennsylvania, is recorded in the Register's office of
     Knox county, Tennessee. It purports to have been made at a
     council held at Tennessee River, on the 1st of March, 1757.
     The consideration is four hundred dollars, and conveys to
     Capt. Jack _fifteen miles square_ south of the Tennessee
     river. The grant itself, confirmatory of the purchase by
     Jack, is dated at a general council, met at the Catawba
     River, on the 7th of May, 1762, and is witnessed by
     Nathaniel Alexander."

Upon this speculative transaction it is proper to make a few
explanatory remarks. About 1750, East Tennessee was beginning to be
settled by adventurous individuals, principally from western North
Carolina, south-western Virginia, and occasionally from more northern
colonies. The Indians were still regarded as the rightful owners and
proper "lords of the soil." At the date of the council held at the
Tennessee River in 1757, only that portion of the country north of
that stream had become sparsely settled, but soon thereafter purchases
of land were sometimes made directly from the Indian chiefs
themselves, as in the above instance, and settlements of whites
speedily followed. Matthew Toole, one of the parties named, had lived
among the Cherokee Indians, and taken to "bed and board," as a wife,
one of the swarthy damsels of that tribe--hence his qualification as
interpreter. He lived on the eastern bank of the Catawba river, in
Mecklenburg county, giving origin to the name of the ford which still
bears his name. Nathaniel Alexander, the subscribing witness, was then
an acting magistrate of the county, and a man of extensive influence.

Colonel Patrick Jack, the father of Judge John F. Jack, died in
Chambersburg, Pa., on the 25th of January, 1821, aged ninety-one
years. His daughter, Jane Stewart, died in 1853, also aged ninety-one
years. His daughter Mary (never married) died on the 29th of May,
1862, aged eighty-five years.

The family of Judge John F. Jack consisted of eight children, of whom,
at the present time (1876) only four are living, viz.: Martha Mariah
(Mrs. Dr. Rhoton), of Morristown, East Tennessee; William Pinkney
Jack, of Russelville, Ala.; John F. Jack, of West Point Mississippi,
both worthy and eminent lawyers in their respective locations; and
Sarah Anne (Mrs. Dr. Carriger), of Morristown, Tenn. Few persons, in
the early history of East Tennessee, were held in as great estimation,
and filled with universal acceptance as many important positions of
public trust as Judge John F. Jack. The county seat of justice of
Campbell county, Jacksboro, was named in his honor, and his
descendants should hold in cherished remembrance his purity of life
and unsullied integrity of character.


Samuel Wilson, Sr., was one of the earliest settlers of Mecklenburg
county, and the patriarchal ancestor of numerous descendants, who
performed important civil and military services in the Revolutionary
war. He emigrated from Pennsylvania about 1745, and purchased a large
body of valuable lands in the bounds of Hopewell church, in
Mecklenburg county. He was of Scotch-Irish descent, and inherited the
peculiar traits of that liberty-loving, people. He was married three
times, and was the father of thirteen children. His first wife was
Mary Winslow, a sister of Moses Winslow, one of the early and leading
patriots of Rowan county, who died on the 1st of October, 1813, in the
eighty-third year of his age, and is buried in the graveyard of Center

Samuel Wilson, Sr., died on the 13th of March, 1778, in the
sixty-eighth year of his age. His children, by the first wife, were:
1. Mary; 2. Violet; 3. Samuel; 4. John. 5. Benjamin Wilson. Mary, the
eldest daughter, married Ezekiel Polk, the father of Samuel Polk, and
grandfather of James K. Polk, President of the United States in 1845.
Ezekiel Polk was a man of wealth and influence in Mecklenburg county
preceding the Revolution, and owned a large body of the valuable lands
in and around the present flourishing village of Pineville. Samuel
Polk inherited a portion of this land, lying in the "horse shoe bend"
of Little Sugar Creek, and immediately on the Camden road, over which
Cornwallis marched with his army on his celebrated visit (the first
and the last) to the "Hornet Nest" of America.

2. Violet Wilson married Major John Davidson, one of the signers of
the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.

3. Samuel Wilson, a soldier of the Revolution, married Hannah Knox, a
daughter of Captain Patrick Knox, killed at the battle of Ramsour's
Mill. He raised a large family, all of whom have passed away, falling
mostly as victims of consumption. His daughter Mary (or "Polly")
married her cousin Benjamin Wilson, (son of David Wilson) who was
killed by Nixon Curry, because he was to appear in court as a witness
against him.

4. _Major David Wilson_, an ardent patriot, and one of the heroes
under Colonel Locke at Ramsour's Mill, married Sallie McConnell, a
sister of Mrs. General James White, the father of the Hon. Hugh Lawson
White. (See sketch of his life, under "Iredell County.")

5. Mrs. Adaline McCoy, of Lincolnton, is a daughter, and worthy
descendant of Moses Winslow Wilson, a son of Major David Wilson. John
and Benjamin Wilson, the remaining sons of Samuel Wilson, Sr., by the
first wife, never married.

6. After General Davidson was killed at Cowan's Ford, on the morning
of the 1st of February, 1781, Major David Wilson, and Richard Barry,
Esq, both of whom participated in the skirmish at that place, secured
the body of their beloved commander, and carried it to the residence
of Samuel Wilson, Sr., to receive the usual preparatory attentions for
burial. Mrs. Davidson, who resided about ten miles distant, in the
vicinity of Center Church was immediately sent for; she came as
hastily as possible in the afternoon, under the charge of George
Templeton one of her neighbors, and received, on that solemn occasion,
the heart-felt condolence and sympathy of numerous sorrowing friends
and relatives. In consequence of this necessary delay, those true
patriots and friends of the deceased (Wilson and Barry) moved with the
body late in the evening of the same day, and committed it to the
silent tomb, _by torchlight_, in Hopewell graveyard.

7. _Rebecca Wilson_, the youngest daughter by the first wife, married
John Henderson. After the birth of two children, they set out from
Mecklenburg, with the intention of moving to Tennessee, accompanied by
a brother and sister of Henderson. On the way, while they were
stopping for dinner, they were suddenly attacked by Indians. Henderson
and his wife were killed. The brother and sister each seized a child
and made their escape. The children were brought back to Mecklenburg
county, and properly cared for by their relatives; but, after they
grew up, and Indian outrages having subsided, they returned to

The second wife of Samuel Wilson, Sr., was a widow Potts. Having a
feeble constitution, she lived but a short time, leaving a daughter,
named Margaret, who married John Davidson, an uncle of the late
William Davidson, Esq., of Charlotte. After she was left a widow, she
moved with her three children, Samuel Wilson, John (or "Jackey") and
Mary Davidson, to Alabama, where a large number of her descendants may
be now found in Bibb and adjoining counties of that State.

The children of Major John Davidson and Violet Wilson were:

1. Isabella Davidson married Gen. Joseph Graham, of Lincoln county,
the father of the late Hon. William A. Graham and others.

2. Rebecca Davidson married Capt. Alexander Brevard, a brother of Dr.
Ephraim Brevard, the reputed author of the Mecklenburg Declaration of
the 20th of May, 1775, and one of the "seven brothers in the rebel
army," at one time.

3. Violet Davidson married William Bain Alexander, a son of John
McKnitt Alexander, one of the secretaries of the Mecklenburg

4. Elizabeth Davidson married William Lee Davidson, a son of General
Davidson, who fell at Cowan's Ford.

5. Mary Davidson married Dr. William McLean, a distinguished physician
during and after the Revolution.

6. Sarah Davidson married Alexander Caldwell, a son of Dr. David
Caldwell, an eminent Presbyterian minister of Guilford county.

7. Margaret Davidson married Major James Harris, of Cabarrus county.

8. John (or "Jackey") Davidson, married Sallie Brevard, a daughter of
Adam Brevard, a brother of Dr. Ephraim Brevard.

9. Robert Davidson married Margaret Osborne, a daughter of Adlai
Osborne, the grandfather of the late Jas. W. Osborne, of Charlotte.

10. Benjamin Wilson Davidson married Elizabeth Latta, a daughter of
James Latta, Esq.

The third wife of Samuel Wilson, Sr., was Margaret Jack, a sister of
Captain Jack, the bearer of the Mecklenburg Declaration to Congress.
By this marriage there were five children:

1. _Sarah Wilson_, married Ben McConnell, who had three children,
Charity, Latta and Wilson McConnell. Charity McConnell married Reese
Davidson, a nephew of General Ephraim Davidson. This family, and also
that of Wilson McConnell, moved to Tennessee.

2. _Charity Wilson_, died at the age of sixteen years.

3. _Robert Wilson_, married Margaret Alexander, a daughter of Major
Thomas Alexander, and grand-daughter of Neil Morrison, one of the
Mecklenburg signers. He left five daughters, and one son, who lost his
life in the Confederate cause.

4. _Lillis Wilson_, (frequently written "Lillie,") married James
Connor, who emigrated from Ireland when about twenty-one years of age;
volunteered his services at the commencement of the Revolutionary War,
and fought through the struggle to its close. He died in April, 1835,
aged eighty-four years, and is buried in Baker's graveyard. He left
two children, Henry Workman and Margaret Jack Conner. H. Workman
Conner was a worthy and influential citizen of Charleston, S.C., where
he spent about fifty years of his life, and died in January, 1861.
Margaret J. Connor married J. Franklin Brevard, a son of Capt.
Alexander Brevard, of Lincoln county. She was an estimable Christian
lady, survived her husband many years, was beloved by all who knew
her, and died with peaceful resignation, on the 25th of October, 1866,
in the sixty-eighth year of her age. Her only child, Rebecca, married
Robert I. McDowell, Esq., of Mecklenburg county.

5. _William Jack Wilson_, youngest child of Samuel Wilson, Sr., by the
third wife, married Rocinda Winslow, the youngest daughter of Moses
Winslow. The house in which this old patriot then resided, has long
since disappeared. It stood on the public road, about three miles
southwest of Center church. A large Honey Locust tree now (1876)
nearly points out its original location.

William J. Wilson left four children: 1. Dovey A., (Mrs. Dougherty); 2
Robert; 3. La Fayette, and 4. James C. Wilson.

The house in which Samuel Wilson, Sr., resided, and to which the body
of General Davidson was borne by David Wilson and Richard Barry,
before sepulture, was a two-story frame building. No portion of it now
remains and the plow runs smoothly over its site. Robert and William
J. Wilson built on the old homestead property. These two brothers were
closely united in filial affection during their lives, and now lie,
side by side, in Hopewell graveyard.

Mrs. Margaret Jack Wilson, third wife of Samuel Wilson, Sr., is
described by all who knew her, as a woman of uncommon energy, of an
amiable disposition, charitable to the poor, and a truly humble
Christian. She died at the age of fifty-eight years, was never sick
during her life, until a few days before her death, and is buried in
Baker's graveyard. When drawing near to the close of her earthly
existence, she was asked if she had a desire to live longer; she
replied, "No; she was like a ship long tossed at sea and about to land
at a port of rest."

In this same spot of ground, (Baker's graveyard,) five miles northeast
of Beattie's Foard, on the Catawba, consecrated as the last
resting-place of some of the earliest settlers of Mecklenburg county,
repose the mortal remains of the Rev. John Thompson, one of the first
Presbyterian missionaries in this section of the State, and who died
in September, 1753. No monumental slab or head-stone is placed at his
grave. Tradition says he built a cabin (or study-house) in the
northwestern angle of the graveyard, and was buried beneath its floor,
being the first subject of interment. John Baker, who lived in the
immediate vicinity, married his daughter, and dying a few years later,
gave the permanent name to the burial-ground. Here also repose the
remains of _Hugh Lawson_, the grandfather of the Hon. Hugh Lawson
White, a native of Iredell county. The only tablet to the memory of
this early settler, is a rough slate rock, about one foot high and
nine inches broad, on which are rudely chiseled the initial letters of
his name, thus combined, HL. In subsequent years, after the erection
of Hopewell Church, the most of the Wilson family and relatives were
buried in the graveyard at that place.


Among the interesting Revolutionary records of Mecklenburg county,
which have been preserved, is the "Muster Roll" of Captain Charles
Polk's Company of "Light Horse," with the time of service and pay of
each member thereof, as follows:

     "Dr. The Public of North Carolina,

     "To Captain Charles Polk, for services done by him and his
     Company of Light Horse, who entered the 12th of March, 1776.

     "Captain, Charles Polk.
     1st Lieut, William Ramsey.
     2nd Lieut., John Lemmond.
     1st Sergt, John Montgomery
     2nd Sergt., William Galbraith (erased).
     Drummer, Hugh Lindsay.
     John Smith.
     John Polk, Sen. (erased).
     John Wylie.
     John Findley.
     John Galbraith.
     James Hall.
     John Stansill.
     William ---- (illegible).
     John Miller.
     Humphrey Hunter.
     Henry Carter.
     James Maxwell.
     John Maxwell.
     Robert Galbraith.
     John McCandlis.
     Nicholas Siler.
     Samuel Linton.
     Thomas Shelby.
     James Alexander.
     Robert Harris, Jun.
     John Foard.
     Jonathan Buckaloe.
     Charles Alexander, Sen.
     Henry Powell.
     William Rea.
     Samuel Hughes.
     Charles Alexander, Jun.
     William Shields.
     Charles Polk, Jun.
     John Purser.
     William Lemmond, 'Clerk to the said company, and Shurgeon to y'e

Remarks.--The whole expense of Captain Polk's company in this campaign
for sixty-five days, including the hire of three wagons at 16s. each
per day, and two thousand and five rations, at 8d. each, amounted to
£683 9s. 8d. The account was proven, according to law, before Colonel
Adam Alexander, one of the magistrates of the county, and audited and
countersigned by Ephraim Alexander, George Mitchell and James Jack,
the bearer of the Mecklenburg Declaration to Congress. The pay of a
Captain was then 10s. per day; of a 1st and 2nd Lieutenant, 7s. each;
of a first Sergeant, 6s. 6d.; of a 2nd Sergeant, 5s. 6d.; of the Clerk
and "Shurgeon," 6s. 6d.; and of each private, 5s.

James Hall, one of the privates in this expedition, afterward became a
distinguished Presbyterian minister of the gospel, and was elected on
two occasions by his own congregation, in pressing emergencies, to the
captaincy of a company, and acted as chaplain of the forces with which
he was associated. The late Rev. John Robinson, of Poplar Tent Church,
in Cabarrus county, in speaking of him, said, "when a boy at school in
Charlotte (Queen's Museum), I saw James Hall pass through the town,
with his three-cornered hat, the captain of a company and chaplain of
the regiment." In Captain Polk's manuscript journal of his march,
under Gen. Rutherford, through the mountains of North Carolina, then
the unconquered haunts of wild beasts and savage Indians, he says: "On
September 15th, 1776, Mr. Hall preached a sermon," prompted, as it
appears, by the death of one of Captain Irwin's men on the day before.

This was probably the first sermon ever heard in these secluded
mountainous valleys, now busy with the hum of civilized life. (See
sketch of his services under "Iredell County.")

Humphrey Hunter, first a private and afterward lieutenant in Captain
Robert Mebane's company in this expedition, also became an eminent
minister of the gospel, and presided at the _semi-centennial_
celebration of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, on the
20th of May, 1825. (See sketch of his services under Gaston county.)

William Shields was the gallant soldier of General Sumter's command,
who discovered a bag of gold in the camp of the routed enemy after the
battle of Hanging Rock. Not less generous than brave, steady on the
march, and true on the field, he voluntarily carried the gold to his
commanding general, and requested him to use it in the purchase of
clothing and shoes for his ragged and suffering fellow-soldiers. It is
needless to say that this brave and meritorious officer faithfully
applied it according to the request of the honest and generous

Thomas Shelby, a relative of Colonel Isaac Shelby, of King's Mountain
fame, James Alexander, Charles Polk, Jun., Robert Harris, William
Ramsey, John Foard (one of the Mecklenburg signers), John Lemmond,
John Montgomery, William Rea, and others on the list, will awaken in
the minds of their descendants emotions of veneration for their
patriotic ancestors, who, one hundred years ago--at the very dawn of
the Revolution, and before a _hesitating_ Congress, proclaimed our
National declaration, pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor
in the cause of American freedom.


James Knox Polk, son of Samuel Polk, and grandson of Ezekiel Polk, was
born on the 2nd of November, 1793 about eleven miles south of
Charlotte, on the Camden road, on a plantation which, at his father's
removal to Tennessee in 1806, became the property of Nathan Orr, and
finally that of the late James Hennigan, Esq. The house in which James
K. Polk was born, stood about two hundred yards south of the present
crossing place of Little Sugar Creek, and about one hundred yards to
the right of the public road in passing from Charlotte. The lingering
signs of the old family mansion are still visible; and the plow, in
this _centennial year_, runs smoothly over its site, presenting a more
vigorous growth of the great Southern staple, _cotton_, than the
adjoining lands. The plantation was a part of the valuable lands owned
by Ezekiel Polk in the "Providence" settlement, and near the present
flourishing village of "Pineville." The family mansion, around which
"Jimmy Polk" sported with his younger brothers and sisters, and wended
their way in frolicsome mood to a neighboring school, was an humble
building, made by joining two hewn log houses together, with a passage
between, in the common style of the first settlers. In 1851 Mr.
Hennigan, the last owner of the property, moved one half of the
building, apparently the better portion; but with a badly decayed
roof, to his barn-yard, and near his handsome residence on the rising
ground south-east of its original location, and re-covered it, where
it may be seen at the present time.

Samuel Polk, the father of James K. Polk, married Jane, a daughter of
James Knox, a soldier of the Revolution, who lived at a place about
midway between the residences of the late Rev. John Williamson and
Benjamin Wilson Davidson, Esq., youngest son of Major John Davidson.
He had ten children, of whom James K. was the eldest, and who early
displayed quick, intuitive powers, He received the principal part of
his education in North Carolina, and graduated in 1818 at the State
University, with the highest honors of his class. While at college, he
laid the foundations of his future fame and usefulness.

It is said he never missed a single recitation, or avoided a single
duty during the whole course of his collegiate term. After graduating,
he returned to Tennessee, his father's adopted state, commenced the
study of law in the office of the Hon. Felix Grundy, and was admitted
to the bar in 1820. In 1823, he entered the stormy sea of politics, in
which he was destined to achieve a brilliant career. In 1825, he was
elected to Congress, and in 1835, was made Speaker of the House of
Representatives, which honorable position he held for five sessions.
After serving fourteen years, with distinguished ability and
impartiality, he declined a re-election. During this long and
laborious service, he was never known to be absent, for a single day,
from the House. In 1839, after an animated contest, he was elected
Governor of Tennessee. In May, 1844, he was nominated as a candidate
for the Presidency of the United States. His majority in the Electoral
College over Henry Clay for this high office was sixty-five votes. The
great labor he performed at a period of unexampled danger to the
republic, and of difficulties with foreign nations, operated seriously
upon his debilitated system, and hastened his end.

In May, 1844, in accepting the nomination, he declared in advance,
that, if elected, he would only serve _one term_. And in a letter
addressed to the Convention, through Dr. J.G.M. Ramsey, of Knoxville,
he re-iterated his determination, and voluntarily declined, when many
of his friends deemed his name the only available means of success.
His precarious and constantly declining state of health, forcibly
admonished him of his early departure from the scenes of earth. He
calmly met his approaching end, and died at Nashville, on the 15th of
June, 1849, in the forty-fourth year of his age.

When the mists of party and prejudice shall have subsided, and the
dispassionate verdict of posterity be given, the services of James K.
Polk will be acknowledged as unsurpassed in the annals of our nation;
and his noble and disinterested example of only serving _one term_,
will be regarded by all pure-minded occupants of the Presidential
Chair, as worthy of imitation.

Mecklenburg county is proud of her son!

In the old "Polk Graveyard," nine miles from Charlotte, is the
tombstone of Mrs. Maria Polk, a grand-aunt of President Polk,
containing a lengthy eulogy, in poetry and prose, of this good woman.
The first sentence, "_Virtus non exemptio a morte_"[H] is neatly
executed on a semicircle, extending over the prostrate figure of a
departed female saint, sculptured with considerable skill on the
soapstone slab, but now scarcely visible on account of the
over-spreading moss and lichen. Immediately beneath the _sainted
figure_ is the expression, _Formosa etsi mortua_.[I] From the lengthy
eulogy, the following extracts are taken:

     "Here, unalarmed at death's last stroke,
     Lies in this tomb, Maria Polk;
     A tender mother, virtuous wife.
     Resigned in every scene of life.

       *       *       *       *       *

     "To heavenly courts she did repair;
     May those she loved all meet her there.

     "Supported by the hope of a happy death, and a glorious
     resurrection to eternal life, she bore a tedious and painful
     illness with a truly Christian fortitude. The last exercise
     of her feeble mind was employed in singing the 63rd of the
     second book of Dr. Watt's Hymns, in which, anticipating the
     blessed society above, she exchanged the earthly for the
     heavenly melody."

She died on the 29th of November, 1791, in the forty-fifth year of her


General William Davidson was the youngest son of George Davidson, and
born in 1746. His father moved from Lancaster county, in Pennsylvania,
in 1750, to North Carolina, and settled in the western part of Rowan
county (now Iredell.) Here General Davidson received his earliest
mental training, and subsequently his principal and final education at
Queen's Museum College in Charlotte, where many of the patriots of
Mecklenburg and surrounding counties were educated.

At the Provincial Congress which met at Halifax, on on the 4th of
April, 1776, four additional regiments to the two already in service,
were ordered to be raised, over one of which (the 4th) Thomas Polk was
appointed Colonel, James Thackston Lieutenant Colonel, and William
Davidson Major. With this regiment, under General Francis Nash, he
marched to join the army of the North, under General Washington, where
he served until November 1779, when the North Carolina line was
ordered south to reinforce General Lincoln, at Charleston. Previous to
this time he had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in
the line. As the troops passed through North Carolina, Colonel
Davidson obtained a furlough for a few days to visit his family, whom
he had not seen for three years. This saved him from the fate which
befell Gen. Lincoln and his army at Charleston; for, when he
approached that city, he found it so closely invested by the British
Army that he was prevented from joining his regiment. When Lincoln
surrendered, Davidson returned to Mecklenburg, and rendered important
services in subduing the Tories, who, encouraged by the success of the
British arms, became numerous, daring and oppressive.

A strong force of Tories having assembled at Coulson's Mill, General
Davidson raised a troop of volunteers and marched against them. A
fierce skirmish took place, in which he was severely wounded by a ball
passing through his body near the kidneys. This wound nearly proved
fatal, and detained him from the service about two months. After his
recovery, he again took the field, having been promoted for his
bravery to the rank of Brigadier-General in the place of General
Rutherford, made a prisoner at the battle of Camden. He was active,
with General Sumner and Colonel Davie, in checking the advance of the
British, and throughout this darkest period of the Revolution gave
ample evidence of his untiring zeal in the cause of his country.

After the battle of the Cowpens, on the 17th of January, 1781, in
which General Morgan, with an inferior force, chastised the temerity
and insolence of Tarleton, General Davidson was actively engaged in
assembling the militia of his district to aid General Greene in
impeding the advance of the British army in pursuit of General Morgan,
encumbered with more than five hundred prisoners, on his way to
Virginia. General Greene, accompanied by two or three attendants, left
his camp near the Cheraws, rode rapidly through the country, and met
General Morgan at Sherrill's Ford, on the eastern bank of the Catawba
river, and directed his future movements.

General Davidson had placed guards at Tuckasege, Toole's, Cowan's and
Beattie's Fords. When Cornwallis approached the Catawba, on the
evening of the 28th of January, he found it considerably swollen and
impassable for his infantry.

This Providential obstacle caused him to fall back five miles from the
river to Jacob Forney's plantation, a thrifty farmer of that
neighborhood. General Davidson had assembled a force of about three
hundred and fifty men at Cowan's Ford. At half past two o'clock on the
morning of the 1st of February, 1781, Cornwallis broke up his
encampment at Forney's and reached Cowan's Ford at daybreak. It was a
dark morning, accompanied with slight drizzling rain. The light
infantry, under Colonel Hall, entered first, followed by the
grenadiers and the battalions.

The picquet of the Americans challenged the enemy; receiving no reply,
the guard fired at the advancing enemy. This immediately called into
action that portion of Davidson's forces placed near the river, who
kept up a galling fire from the bank. According to Stedman, the
English historian, who accompanied Cornwallis, the Tory guide,
becoming alarmed at the firing, when the British army reached the
middle of the river, turned about and left them. This caused Colonel
Hall to lead them directly across to an unexpected landing-place.
Colonel Hall was killed as he ascended the bank; the horse of Lord
Cornwallis was shot in the river, and fell dead as he reached the
bank; three privates were killed and thirty-six wounded. The diversion
of the British army from the proper landing caused the Americans to
fire angularly and not directly upon their enemy, and hence was less
effective in its results. General Davidson, who was about half a mile
in the rear with the larger portion of his forces, arrived at the
scene of action just as the Americans were fleeing before the fire of
the well-organized and greatly superior British forces.

In attempting to rally the Americans, and venturing too near the
British army, he received a fatal shot in his breast, and fell dead
almost instantly from his horse. The loss of the Americans in privates
was only two killed and about twenty wounded.

The British infantry waded the river in platoons, and reserved their
fire until they ascended the eastern bank, and thus effected their
passage. Cornwallis remained only about three hours after the
skirmish, for the purpose of burying his dead, and then proceeded in
the direction of Salisbury. Soon after his departure David Wilson and
Richard Barry, both of whom were in the skirmish, secured the body of
their beloved commander, conveyed it to the house of Samuel Wilson,
Sen., and buried it that night by _torch-light_ in the graveyard of
Hopewell Church.

Thus fell in the prime of life, and at a moment of great usefulness to
his country, this noble and patriotic soldier. Right worthily is his
name bestowed upon one of the most fertile counties of our State, and
upon a seat of learning, located near the scene of his death, which
will perpetuate his fame as long as liberty has a votary throughout
all succeeding time.


General George Graham was born in Pennsylvania in 1758, and came with
his widowed mother and four others to North Carolina, when about six
years old. He was chiefly educated at "Queen's Museum," in Charlotte,
and was distinguished for his assiduity, manly behaviour and
kindliness of disposition. He was early devoted to the cause of
liberty, and was ever its untiring defender. There was no duty too
perilous, no service too dangerous, that he was not ready to undertake
for the welfare and independence of his country.

In 1775, when it was reported in Charlotte that two Tory lawyers, Dunn
and Boothe, had proposed the detention of Capt. Jack on his way to
Philadelphia, and had pronounced the patriotic resolutions with which
he was entrusted, as "treasonable," George Graham was one of the
gallant spirits who rode all night to Salisbury, seized said offending
lawyers, and brought them to Mecklenburg for trial. Here, after being
found guilty of conduct "inimical to the cause of American freedom,"
they were transported to Camden, S.C., and afterward to Charleston,
and imprisoned.

Such were the open manifestations of liberty and independence in
different portions of North Carolina in 1775!

When Cornwallis lay at Charlotte in 1780, Graham took an active part
in attacking his foraging parties, making it extremely difficult and
hazardous for them to procure their necessary supplies. He was one of
the thirteen brave spirits, under Capt. James Thompson, who dared to
attack a foraging party of four hundred British troops at McIntire's
Branch, seven miles northwest of Charlotte, on the Beattie's Ford
road, compelling them to retreat, with a considerable loss of men and
a small amount of forage, fearing, as they said, an ambuscade was
prepared for their capture.

After the war, he was elected Major General of the North Carolina
militia. For many years, he was clerk of the court of Mecklenburg
county, and frequently a member of the State Legislature. He was the
people's friend, not their flatterer, and uniformly enjoyed the
confidence and high esteem of his fellow-citizens. He lived more than
half a century on his farm, two miles from Charlotte. He died on the
29th of March, 1826, in the sixty-eighth year of his age, and is
buried in the graveyard of the Presbyterian Church at Charlotte.


General William R. Davie was born in Egremont, near White Haven, in
England, on the 20th of June, 1756. When he was only five years of
age, he emigrated, with his father, Archibald Davie, to America, and
was adopted by his maternal uncle, Rev. William Richardson, who
resided on the Catawba river, in South Carolina. After due preparation
at "Queen's Museum" in Charlotte, he entered Princeton College, where,
by his close application, he soon acquired the reputation of an
excellent student. But the din of arms disturbed his collegiate
studies, so auspiciously commenced, and he forthwith exchanged the
gown for the sword. The studies of the College were closed, and Davie
volunteered his services in the army of the north in 1776. The
campaign being ended, he returned to College, and graduated in the
Fall of that year with the first honors of the Institution.

He returned to North Carolina, and commenced the study of the law in
Salisbury, but the struggle for life and liberty then going on, did
not allow his chivalric spirit to repose in quietude while his country
was in danger. Actuated by urgent patriotic motives, he induced
William Barnett, of Mecklenburg county, to raise, with as little delay
as possible, a troop of horsemen. Over this company, William Barnett
was elected Captain, and Davie, Lieutenant. The commission of the
latter is signed by Governor Caswell, and is dated the 5th of April,
1779. This company joined the southern army, and became attached to
Pulaski's Legion. Davie's gallantry and activity were so conspicuous,
that he soon rose to the rank of Major.

At the battle of Stono, near Charleston, he experienced his first
serious conflict in arms, and was severely wounded in the thigh, which
laid him up for some time in the hospital in that city. In this
engagement, Major Davie also received a wound from a heavy cavalry
charge of the enemy, which caused him to fall from his horse. He still
held the bridle, but was so severely wounded that, after repeated
efforts, he could not remount. The enemy was now close upon him and in
a moment more he would have been made a prisoner. Just at this time, a
private, whose horse had been killed, and who was retreating, saw the
imminent danger of his gallant officer, and returned at the risk of
his life to save him. With great composure he raised Major Davie on
his horse, and safely led him from the bloody field. "An action of
courage worthy of Rome in her palmiest days." In the haste and
confusion of the retreat, this brave soldier disappeared. Major Davie
made frequent inquiries for his preserver, to evince his gratitude to
him and his family, for his timely and heroic aid; but in vain.

At the siege of Ninety-Six, when Davie was acting as
Commissary-General of the Southern army, on the morning of the attack,
a soldier came to his tent, and made himself known as the man who had
assisted him in mounting his horse at Stono. The soldier promised to
call again, but, alas! he fell soon after in battle, which deprived
Major Davie of the pleasure of bestowing upon him substantial tokens
of his lasting gratitude.

After his recovery, Major Davie returned to Salisbury, and resumed the
study of law. In 1780, he obtained his license to practice, and soon
became distinguished in his profession. But the camp rather than the
Court-house, still demanded his services. In the winter of 1780, he
obtained authority from the General Assembly of North Carolina to
raise a troop of cavalry, and two companies of mounted infantry. But
the authority only was granted. The State being too poor to provide
the means, Major Davie, with a patriotism worthy of perpetual
remembrance, disposed of the estate acquired from his uncle, and thus
raised funds to equip the troops. With this force, he proceeded to the
southwestern portion of the State and protected it from the predatory
incursions of the British and Tories. Charleston having surrendered on
the 12th of May, 1780, and Tarleton's butchery of Colonel Buford's
regiment, in the Waxhaws, on the 29th, induced General Rutherford to
order out the militia in mass, to oppose the advance of the
conquerors. On the 3rd of June, nine hundred men assembled at
Charlotte, ready to defend their country. The militia were reviewed by
General Rutherford, and, after being addressed in strong, patriotic
language by Dr. Whorter, President of the College in Charlotte, were
dismissed, with directions to hold themselves in readiness at a
moment's warning.

Lord Rawdon having advanced with the British army to Waxhaw Creek,
General Rutherford issued, on the 10th of June, his orders for the
militia to rendezvous at McKee's plantation, eighteen miles north-east
of Charlotte. The orders were obeyed, and on the 12th eight hundred
men were in arms on the ground. On the 14th the troops were organized.
The cavalry, under Major Davie, was formed into two troops under
Captains Lemmonds and Martin; a battalion of three hundred light
infantry was placed under Colonel William Davidson, a regular officer,
and the remainder under the immediate command of General Rutherford.

On the 15th of June General Rutherford marched within two miles of
Charlotte. Here he learned that Lord Rawdon had retrograded from the
Waxhaws to Camden. He then resolved to advance on the Tories, who, it
was well known, had assembled in strong force at Ramsour's Mill, near
the present town of Lincolnton. Having issued orders on the 14th to
Colonel Francis Locke, Captains Falls and Brandon, of Rowan, and to
Major David Wilson, of Mecklenburg, and to other officers, to raise
men and attack this body of Tories, he marched on the 18th eleven
miles, to Tuckasege Ford, on the Catawba River. He sent an express on
the same day to Colonel Locke to meet him with his forces three miles
north-west of the river, at Colonel Dickson's plantation. The express,
for some unknown reason, never reached Colonel Locke. This officer,
failing to secure the co-operative aid of General Rutherford, marched
from Mountain Creek late on the evening of the 19th of June, and early
on the morning of the 20th attacked and routed the Tories before the
arrival of General Rutherford's forces. (For further particulars, see
the "Battle of Ramsour's Mill," under the head of Lincoln County.)

After the battle of Ramsour's Mill, General Rutherford marched against
the Tories assembled under Colonel Bryan in the forks of Yadkin River,
while Major Davie was ordered to move with his mounted force and take
position near the South Carolina line, to protect this exposed
frontier from the incursions of the British and the Tories. He
accordingly took position on the north side of Waxhaw Creek, where he
was joined by Major Crawford, with a few South Carolina troops and
thirty-five Indian warriors of the Catawba tribe, under their chief,
New River, and the Mecklenburg militia under Colonel Hagins.

On the 20th of July Major Davie surprised and captured at Flat Rock, a
convoy of provisions, spirits and clothing, guarded by some dragoons
and volunteers, on their way to the post at Hanging Rock, about four
and a half miles distant. The capture was effected without loss; the
spirits, provisions and wagons were destroyed, and the prisoners,
mounted on the captured horses and guarded by dragoons under Captain
William Polk, at dark commenced their retreat. On Beaver Creek, about
midnight, they were attacked by the enemy in ambuscade, concealed
under the fence in a field of standing corn. The rear guard had
entered the lane when Captain Petit, the officer in advance, hailed
the British in their place of concealment. A second challenge was
answered by a volley of musketry from the enemy, which commenced on
the right, and passed by a running fire to the rear of the detachment.
Major Davie rode rapidly forward and ordered the men to push through
the lane; but, under surprise, his troops turned back, and upon the
loaded arms of the enemy. He was thus compelled to repass the
ambuscade under a heavy fire, and overtook his men retreating by the
same road they had advanced. The detachment was finally rallied and
halted upon a hill, but so discomfited at this unexpected attack that
no effort could induce them to charge upon the enemy.

A judicious retreat was the only course left to avoid a similar
disaster, which was effected; and Major Davie, having passed the
enemy's patrols, regained his camp early on the next day without
further accident. In this attack, the fire of the enemy fell chiefly
upon those in the lane, who were prisoners (confined two on a horse
with the guard). These were nearly all killed, or severely wounded. Of
the Whigs, Lieutenant Elliott was killed, and Captain Petit, who had
been sent in advance by Major Davie to examine the lane, the ford of
the creek and the houses, and failing to do so, as carefully as was
proper, paid the penalty of neglect of duty by being wounded with two
of his men. Major Davie, who was noted for his vigilance, anticipated
some attempt by the British and Tories to recover the prisoners, and
had taken, as he believed, all necessary precautions to prevent a
surprise or ambuscade.

Major Davie, in a manuscript account of this affair, now on file in
the archives of the Historical Society at Chapel Hill, leaves this
judicious advice:

     "It furnishes a lesson to officers of partisan corps, that
     every officer of a detachment may, at some time, have its
     safety and reputation committed to him, and that the
     slightest neglect of duty is generally severely punished by
     an enemy."

Rocky Mount is on the west bank of the Wateree River (as the Catawba
is called after its junction with Wateree Creek), thirty miles from
Camden, and was garrisoned by Colonel Turnbull with one hundred and
fifty New York volunteers and some militia. Its defences consisted of
two log-houses, a loop-holed building and an _abattis_.[J]

On the 30th of July, 1780, General Sumter and Colonel Neal, from South
Carolina, and Colonel Irwin, with three hundred Mecklenburg militia,
joined Major Davie. A council was held, and it was determined that
simultaneous attacks should be made upon the British posts at Rocky
Mount and Hanging Rock. General Sumter was accompanied by Colonels
Neal, Irwin and Lacy, and Captain McLure, and some of his kinsmen, the
Gastons. Having; crossed the Catawba at Blair's Ford, he arrived early
on the next day, and made vigorous attacks against the fort, but
failed in capturing it, mainly for the want of artillery. The attack
elicited the praise of even the enemy. Early in the action, the
gallant Colonel Neal was killed, with five whites and one Catawba
Indian, and many were severely wounded. The British loss was ten
killed, and the same number wounded. General Sumter ordered a retreat,
which was effected without further annoyance or loss.

Major Davie, with about forty mounted riflemen, and the same number of
dragoons, and some Mecklenburg militia, under Colonel Hagins,
approached Hanging Rock on the same day. While he was reconnoitering
the ground, previous to making the attack, he was informed that three
companies of Bryan's Tory regiment, returning from a foraging
expedition, were encamped at a farmhouse near the post.

Major Davie, with his brave associates, immediately fell upon them
with vigor, both in front and rear, and all but a few of them were
either killed or wounded. No time could be spared to take prisoners,
as the engagement at the farm-house was in full view of the British
post at Hanging Rock. The fruits of this victory were sixty valuable
horses, and one hundred muskets and rifles. The whole camp of the
enemy instantly beat to arms, but this brilliant affair was ended, and
Davie out of reach before the enemy's forces were in motion, or their
consternation subsided from this daring and successful attack. Major
Davie reached his camp safely without the loss of a single man.

General Sumter was thoroughly convinced that the ardent patriots of
which his command consisted must be kept constantly employed, and that
the minds of such men are greatly influenced by dashing exploits. He,
therefore, resolved to unite with Major Davie and other officers, and
make a vigorous attack against the post of Hanging Rock. This post
derives its name from a huge conglomerate bowlder of granite,
twenty-five or thirty feet in diameter, lying upon the eastern bank of
Hanging Rock Creek, with a concavity sufficiently large to shelter
fifty men from the rain, Near this natural curiosity Lord Rawdon, then
commanding the British and Tories in that section, had established a
post, garrisoned by Tarleton's Legion of infantry, a part of Brown's
Corps of South Carolina and Georgia Provincials, and Colonel Bryan's
North Carolina Loyalists, the whole under the command of Major Carden.


     "Catawba's waters smiled again
       To see her Sumter's soul in arms!
     And issuing from each glade and glen,
       Rekindled by war's fierce alarms,
     Thronged hundreds through the solitude
       Of the wild forests, to the call
     Of him whose spirit, unsubdued,
       Fresh impulse gave to each, to all."

On the 5th of August, 1780, the detachments of the patriots met again
at Land's Ford, on the Catawba. Major Davie had not lost a single man
in his last dashing exploit. The North Carolina militia, under Colonel
Irwin and Major Davie, numbered about five hundred men, officers and
privates; and about three hundred South Carolinians under Colonels
Sumter, Lacey and Hill. The chief command was conferred upon Colonel
Sumter, as being the senior officer. Early in the morning, Colonel
Sumter marched cautiously, and approached the British camp in three
divisions, with the intention of falling upon the main body stationed
at Cole's Old Field. The right was composed of Major Davie's corps,
and some volunteers, under Major Bryan; the center, of the Mecklenburg
militia, under Colonel Irwin; and the left, of South Carolina
refugees, under Colonel Hill. General Sumter proposed that the
detachments should approach in their divisions, march directly to the
centre encampments, then dismount, and each division attack its camp.
This plan was approved by all except Major Davie, who insisted on
leaving their horses at their present position, and march to the
attack on foot. He urged, as an objection against the former plan, the
confusion always consequent upon dismounting under fire, and the
certainty of losing the effect of a sudden and vigorous attack. He
was, however, over-ruled, but the sequel proved he was right in his
opinion. Through the error of his guides, Sumter came first upon
Bryan's corps, on the western bank of the creek, half a mile from the
British camp. Colonel Irwin's Mecklenburg militia, commenced the
attack. The Tories soon yielded, and fled toward the main body, many
of them throwing away their arms without discharging them. These the
patriots secured; and, pursuing this advantage, Sumter next fell upon
Brown's corps, which, by being concealed in a wood, poured in a heavy
fire upon the Americans. The latter also quickly availed themselves of
the trees and bushes, and returned the British fire with deadly
effect. The American riflemen, taking deliberate aim, soon cut off all
of Brown's officers and many of his soldiers; and at length, after a
fierce conflict, his corps yielded, and dispersed in confusion. The
arms and ammunition procured from the enemy were of great service, for
when the action commenced, Sumter's men had not two rounds each.

Now was the moment to strike for decisive victory; it was lost by the
criminal indulgence of Sumter's men in plundering the portion of the
British camp already secured, and drinking too freely of the liquor
found there. Sumter's ranks became disordered, and while endeavoring
to bring order out of confusion, the enemy rallied. Of his six hundred
men only about two hundred, with Major Davie's cavalry, could be
brought into immediate action. Colonel Sumter, however, was not to be
foiled. With his small number of patriots he rushed forward, with a
shout, to the attack. The enemy had formed a hollow square, with the
field pieces in front, and in this position received the charge. The
Americans attacked them on three sides, and for a while the contest
was severe. At length, just as the British line was yielding, a
reinforcement under Captains Stewart and McDonald, of Tarleton's
Legion, made their appearance, and their number being magnified,
Colonel Sumter deemed it prudent to retreat.

All this was done about mid-day, but the enemy had been so severely
handled that they did not attempt a pursuit. A small party appeared
upon the Camden road, but were soon dispersed by Davie's cavalry.
Could Sumter have brought all of his forces into action in this last
attack, the rout of the British would have been complete. As it was,

     "He beat them back! beneath the flame
       Of valor quailing, or the shock!
     He carved, at last, a heroe's name,
       Upon the glorious Hanging Rock!"

This engagement lasted about four hours, and was one of the
best-fought battles between militia and British regulars during the
war. Sumter's loss was twelve killed and forty-one wounded. Among the
killed were the brave Colonel McLure (lately promoted to that rank),
of South Carolina, and Captain Reid, of North Carolina; Colonel Hill,
Captain Craighead, Major Winn, Lieutenants Crawford and Fletcher, and
Ensign McLure were wounded.

Colonel McLure, being mortally wounded, was conveyed under the charge
of Davie's cavalry to Charlotte. He lingered until the 18th of August,
on which day he died in Liberty Hall Academy. "Of the many brave men,"
said General Davie, "with whom it was my fortune to become acquainted
in the army, he was one of the bravest; and when he fell we looked
upon his loss as incalculable."

The British loss was much greater than that of the Americans,
sixty-two of Tarleton's Legion were killed and wounded. Bryan's
regiment of Loyalists also suffered severely.

Major Davie's corps suffered much while tying their horses and forming
into line under a heavy fire from the enemy, a measure which he had
reprobated in the council when deciding on the mode of attack.

Having conveyed his wounded to a hospital in Charlotte, which his
foresight had provided, Major Davie hastened to the general rendezvous
at Rugely's Mill, under General Gates. On the 16th of August, while on
his way to unite his forces with those of General Gates, he met a
soldier in great speed, about ten miles from Camden. He arrested him
as a deserter, but soon learned from him that Gates was signally
defeated by the British on that day.

Major Davie then retraced his steps and took post at Charlotte. On the
5th of September, he was appointed by Governor Nash, Colonel
Commandant of Cavalry, with instructions to raise a regiment. He
succeeded in raising only a part, and with two small companies,
commanded by Major George Davidson, he took post at Providence.

On the 21st day of September, Colonel Davie attacked a body of Tories
at the plantation of Captain Wahab (now written Walkup), in the
southwestern corner of Union county (then a part of Mecklenburg),
killed fifteen or twenty of their men, wounded about forty, and
retreated in good order without any loss. In this dashing exploit,
Davie brought off ninety-six horses, one hundred and twenty stands of
arms, and reached his camp the same evening, after riding sixty miles
in less than twenty-four hours.

Generals Sumner and Davidson, with their brigades of militia, reached
his camp in Providence on the same evening. On the advance of the
British army these officers retreated by way of Phifer's to Salisbury,
ordering Colonel Davie, with about one hundred and fifty men, and some
volunteers under Major Joseph Graham, to hover around the approaching
enemy, annoy his foraging parties, and skirmish with his light troops.

On the night of the 25th of September, Colonel Davie entered the town
of Charlotte, determined to give the British army, which lay a few
miles from that place, a _hornets-like reception_. The brilliancy and
patriotic spirit of that skirmish was appropriately displayed on the
very ground which, in May, 1775, was the birth-place American
independence. (See "Skirmish at Charlotte.")

On the next day, Colonel Davie joined the army at Salisbury, where the
men and officers to raise new recruits had assembled. Generals
Davidson and Sumner continued their retreat beyond the Yadkin River,
while Colonel Davie returned to Charlotte, around which place the
activity of his movements, dashing adventures, and perfect knowledge
of the country, rendered him extremely useful in checking the
incursions of the enemy, repressing the Tories and encouraging the
friends of liberty.

Lord Cornwallis sorely felt the difficulties with which his position
at Charlotte was surrounded, and, on hearing of the defeat and death
of Colonel Ferguson, one of his favorite officers, he left that town
late on the evening of the 14th of October, in great precipitation,
recrossed the Catawba at Land's Ford, and took position, for a few
months, at Winnsboro, S.C.

The signal defeat of the British and Tories at King's Mountain--the
conspicuous turning point of success in the American Revolution, and
the retreat of Cornwallis, after his previous boast of soon having
North Carolina under royal subjection, greatly revived the hopes of
the patriots throughout the entire South.

General Smallwood, of Maryland, who had accompanied General Gates to
the South, had his headquarters at Providence, and, in a short time,
several thousand militia, under Generals Davidson, Sumner, and Jones,
joined his camp. Colonel Davie, with three hundred mounted infantry,
occupied an advanced post at Land's Ford.

When General Greene took command of the Southern Army in December,
1780, he and Colonel Davie met for the first time. The Commissary
Department having become vacant by the resignation of Colonel Thomas
Polk, General Greene prevailed upon Colonel Davie to accept this
troublesome and important office. Although the duties of the office
would prevent him from displaying that dashing patriotism so congenial
to his chivalric spirit, yet he agreed to enter upon its arduous and
unthankful responsibilities.

Colonel Davie accompanied General Greene in his rapid retreat from the
Catawba to the Dan River. He was present at the battle of Guilford, in
March, 1781; at Hobkirk's Hill, in April; at the evacuation of Camden,
in May; and at the siege of Ninety-six, in June.

The war, having ended, Colonel Davie retired to private life and his
professional pursuits. He took his first circuit in February, 1783,
and near this time he married Sarah, eldest daughter of General Allen
Jones, of Northampton county, and located himself at Halifax
Courthouse, where he soon rose to the highest eminence in his

Colonel Davie was a member of the Convention which met at
Philadelphia, in May, 1787, to form the Federal Constitution. The late
Judge Murphy, in speaking of Colonel Davie, bears this honorable
testimony to his abilities:

     "I was present in the House of Commons, when Davie addressed
     that body (in 1789,) for a loan of money to erect the
     buildings of the University, and, although more than thirty
     years have elapsed, I have the most vivid recollections of
     the greatness of his manner and the power of his eloquence
     upon that occasion. In the House of Commons he had no rival,
     and on all questions before that body his eloquence was

In December, 1798, he was elected Governor of the State. After
fulfilling other important National and State trusts, and losing his
estimable wife in 1803, Colonel Davie, under the increasing
infirmities of old age, sought retirement. In 1805 he removed to
Tivoli, his country seat, near Land's Ford, in South Carolina, where
he died, in 1820, in the sixty-fourth year of his age. He had six
children: 1. Hyder Ali, who married Elizabeth Jones, of Northampton
county, N.C.; 2. Sarah Jones, who married William F. Desaussure, of
Columbia, S.C.; 3. Mary Haynes; 4. Martha; 5. Rebecca; 6. Frederick


General Michael McLeary was born in 1762. He first entered the service
as a private in Captain William Alexander's company, in the regiment
commanded by Colonel Robert Irwin, William Hagins, Lieutenant Colonel,
and James Harris, Major. The regiment was encamped on Coddle Creek,
near which time Colonel William Davidson, a Continental officer, was
appointed to the command of a battalion. In a short time afterward,
his command marched to Ramsour's Mill, to disperse a large body of
Tories, under Colonel John Moore, but failed to reach that place
before they had been subdued and routed by Colonel Locke and his brave

General McLeary was in the fight against a considerable body of Tories
assembled at Coulson's Mill, at which place General Davidson was
severely wounded.

After this service he again volunteered in Captain William Alexander's
company, Colonel Irwin's regiment, watching the movements of the
enemy. About two miles south of Charlotte, Lieutenant James Taggart
captured two wagons loaded with valuable supplies from Camden for the
British army, then encamped near the former place. In this dashing
exploit, two of the British guard were killed, and the remainder made
prisoners, who were afterward turned over to Colonel Davidson. At the
same time, an express was captured from Lord Cornwallis to Colonel
Turnbull, in command of the forces at Camden. Here, as elsewhere in
the surrounding country, it will be seen the vigilant "hornets" of
Mecklenburg were engaged in their accustomed work.

Captain Alexander's command continued to hang on the enemy's rear for
the purpose of making rapid captures and picking up stragglers, and
followed them to the Old Nation Ford, on the Catawba. Colonel Davidson
having been promoted in the meantime to the rank of Brigadier General,
marched down and encamped near Six Mile Creek, where he was joined by
Generals Morgan and Smallwood, in November, 1780. Near this time
General Morgan was ordered to move with a detachment to the relief of
the upper districts of South Carolina. He set off immediately, and
remained there until after the battle of the Cowpens, on the 17th of
January, 1781.

General McLeary again volunteered in Captain John Brownfield's
company, in General Davidson's brigade, watching the movements of Lord
Cornwallis in his pursuit of General Morgan, encumbered with five
hundred prisoners on his way to a place of safety in Virginia.

General Davidson, anticipating the movements of Cornwallis, had placed
guards at four or five crossing-places on the Catawba river, making
his headquarters near the Tuckasege Ford, on the eastern bank of the
river. On the 31st of January, he left his headquarters to inspect the
position of his guard at Cowan's Ford. Here the British army crossed
at dawn of day, on the 1st of February, 1781. At the close of the
skirmish which ensued, General Davidson was killed. General McLeary
continued in service until after the battle of Guilford, when he
returned home, and was soon afterward discharged. He was highly
respected, represented his county several times in the State
Legislature, and died at a good old age.


Major Thomas Alexander, born in 1753, was one of the earliest and most
unwavering patriots of Mecklenburg county. He first entered the
service in 1775, as a private, in Captain John Springs' company, and
marched to the head of the Catawba river, to assist in protecting the
frontier settlements, then greatly suffering from the murderous and
depredating incursions of the Cherokee Indians. In 1775 he also
volunteered in Captain Ezekiel Polk's company, and marched against the
Tories assembled at the post of Ninety, in South Carolina.

In 1776 he volunteered in Captain William Alexander's company, under
Colonels Adam Alexander and Robert Irwin, General Rutherford
commanding, and marched to the Quaker Meadows, at the head of the
Catawba, and thence across the Blue Ridge to the Cherokee country.
Having severely chastised the Indians and compelled them to sue for
peace, the expedition returned.

In 1779, he volunteered under Captain William Polk and marched to
South Carolina, to subdue the Tories on Wateree River. Soon after this
service he was appointed captain of a company to guard the magazine in
Charlotte, which, on the approach of Cornwallis, in September, 1780,
was removed to a place of safety on the evening before his Lordship's

After Cornwallis left Charlotte, Captain Alexander raised a company of
mounted men to guard the Tuckasege Ford. He occupied this position
until it was known Cornwallis had crossed the Catawba River, at
Cowan's Ford.

After the death of General Davidson he placed himself under Colonel
Lee, of the Continental line, Gen. Pickens commanding, and marched to
Hillsboro, near which place they defeated Colonel Pyles, a Tory
leader, on Haw River. After this service he volunteered under Colonel
Davie and was with him at the battle of Hanging Rock. After Gates'
defeat he was appointed Quarter-master, with orders to attend the
hospital in Charlotte.

Major Alexander married Jane, daughter of Neil Morrison, one of the
signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, and died in
1844, at the age of ninety-two years.

In the "Charlotte Journal," of January 17th, 1845, an obituary notice
of this veteran patriot was published, in which it is stated, "he was
allied by blood to the two most distinguished families of the
period--the Polks and Alexanders, and in his own person blended many
of the qualities peculiar to each. He was remarkable for the highest
courage and the greatest modesty; for marked dignity of personal
deportment, and a disposition the most cheerful, and a heart
overflowing with kindness. He crowned all his virtues by a simple,
unostentatious and humble piety, and concluded a life, protracted to a
period far beyond that allotted to mankind, without a blot, and
without reproach, and with the respect, the affection and veneration
of all who knew him."


Captain William Alexander was born in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, in
the year 1749. He was long and well known in Mecklenburg county, N.C.,
among numerous other persons bearing the same name, as "Capt. Black
Bill Alexander," from being the reputed leader of a small band of
ardent patriots who, in 1771, _blackened their faces_, and destroyed
the king's powder, on its way to Hillsboro, to obey the behests of a
cruel and tyrannical governor. (For further particulars, see sketch of
"Black Boys" of Cabarrus County.)

He first entered the service of the United States as captain of a
company, in 1776, under Colonel Adam Alexander, and marched to the
head of the Catawba River. The object of this expedition was to
protect the valley of the Catawba from the incursions and depredations
of the Cherokee Indians during the time the inhabitants were gathering
in their harvest. He again entered the service: as captain, under
Colonel Adam Alexander, General Rutherford commanding, and marched to
the head of the Catawba River, and across the Blue Ridge Mountains,
against the Cherokee Indians, who were completely routed and their
towns destroyed, compelling them to sue for peace.

In 1780 he commanded a company under Col. Francis Locke, and marched
from Charlotte for the relief of Charleston, but finding the city
closely invested by the British army, the regiment fell back to
Camden, and remained there until their three months' service had

He again served a four months' tour as captain, under General Sumter,
and was in the battles of Rocky Mount, Hanging Rock, and in the
skirmish at Wahab's (now written Walkup's.)

He also served six weeks as captain under Colonel Thomas Polk, in the
winter of 1775-6, known as the "Snow Campaign," against the Tory
leader, Cunningham, in South Carolina.

He again served a three months' tour as captain in the Wilmington
expedition, General Rutherford commanding, immediately preceding the
battle of Guilford, but was not in that action, on account of an
attack of small-pox.

He again marched with General Rutherford's forces against the Tories
assembled at Ramsour's Mill, in Lincoln county, but the action having
taken place shortly before their arrival, they assisted in taking care
of the wounded and in burying the dead.

He again entered the service as captain, for ten months, under General
Sumter, in Colonel Wade Hampton's regiment in South Carolina, and was
the first captain who arrived with his men at the place of rendezvous.

He was also in the fight at the Quarter House, Monk's Corner, capture
of Orangeburg, battle of Eutaw, and in numerous other minor but
important services to his country.

Captain William Alexander resided on the public road leading to
Concord, six miles east of Charlotte, where he died on the 19th of
December, 1836, aged about eighty-seven years.


Elijah Alexander, son of William Alexander, blacksmith, was born in
Mecklenburg county, N.C., in 1760. In 1819, he moved to Maury county,
Tenn., where he died at a good old age. In March, 1780, Colonel Thomas
Polk called out detachments from the nearest companies of militia to
serve as a guard over the public powder placed in the magazine in
Charlotte. He then volunteered for three months under Captain Thomas

After Cornwallis crossed the Catawba River at Cowan's Ford, on the 1st
of February, 1781, at which place General Davidson was killed, a call
was made for more men to harass the progress of the British army. For
this purpose, a rendezvous was made at the "Big Rock" in Cabarrus
county, under Colonel William Polk, Major James Harris and Captain
Brownfield. At this time, the small-pox broke out in camp, from the
effects of which Moses Alexander, a brother of Governor Nathaniel
Alexander, died. After the battle of Guilford, on the 15th of March,
1781, General Greene returned to South Carolina to recover full
possession of the State. He then joined his army under Captain James
Jack (the bearer of the Mecklenburg Declaration to Congress in 1775)
and in Colonel Thomas Polk's regiment. The command marched from
Charlotte, along the "Lawyer's Road," to Matthew Stewart's, on Goose
Creek, and thence towards Camden, to fall in with General Greene's
army. They halted at the noted "Flat Rock," and eat beef butchered on
that wide-spread natural table. The command then marched to Rugeley's
Mill, where it remained a week or more. After this service he returned
home and was honorably discharged.


Captain Charles Alexander was born in Mecklenburg county, N.C.,
January 4th, 1753. He first entered the service of the United States
as a private in July, 1775, in the company of Captain William
Alexander, and Colonel Adam Alexander's regiment, General Rutherford
commanding, and marched across the Blue Ridge Mountains against the
Cherokee Indians. The expedition was completely successful; the
Indians were routed, and their towns destroyed.

He next served as a private for two months, commencing in January,
1776, known as the "Snow Campaign," in Captain William Alexander's
company, and Colonel Thomas Folk's regiment, and marched to Rayburn's
creek, where the Tories were dispersed. In one of the skirmishes,
William Polk was wounded in the shoulder.

In October, 1776, he again served under the same Captain, and in
Colonel Caldwell's regiment, but the command of the regiment during
this tour of duty, was under Major Thomas Harris, who marched to
Camden, S.C., and remained there about three months.

In 1776, he served in the cavalry company of Captain Charles Polk, who
marched to Fort Johnson, near the mouth of Cape Fear river, Colonel
Thomas Polk commanding. He again served as a private in 1778, in the
company of Captain William Gardner and Lieutenant Stephen Alexander,
General Rutherford commanding, who marched to Purysburg, S.C., and
there joined the regulars under General Lincoln, at a camp called the
"Black Swamp." In 1780, shortly after Gates' defeat, he joined Captain
William Alexander's company, and Colonel Thomas Polk's regiment, under
General Davie, marched to the Waxhaws, and was in the engagement
fought there against the Tories.

He again served under Captain William Alexander, as one of the guard
over wagons sent to Fayetteville to procure salt for the army.

In September, 1781, he was elected Captain of a cavalry company, under
Major Thomas Harris, and marched against the Tories at Raft Swamp.

Besides the tours herein specified, Captain Alexander performed other
important services, of shorter duration, in scouring the surrounding
country, and protecting it against the troublesome Tories.

In 1814, Captain Alexander moved to Giles, now Lincoln county, Tenn.,
and in 1833, to Maury county, where he died at an extreme old age.

The Alexanders, who performed a soldier's duty in the Revolutionary
War, residing principally in Mecklenburg county, were very numerous,
several of whom can here receive only a passing notice.

_John Alexander_, son of James Alexander, was in active service for
upwards of five years. He was the husband of Mrs. Susanna Alexander,
long known and highly esteemed in Mecklenburg county as the
ministering angel, who was eminently instrumental in saving the life
of Captain Joseph Graham, after he was cut down by the British
cavalry, near Sugar Creek Church, and left by them, supposed to be
dead. She found him by the roadside, conducted him to her house,
dressed his wounds, made by ball and sabre, and tenderly cared for him
during the night. On the next day, his symptoms becoming more
favorable, she conveyed him to his mother's, about four miles distant,
_on her own pony_. Her husband died in 1805. In 1846, when eighty-six
years of age, and in needy circumstances, she was granted a pension by
the General Government, in behalf of her husband's military services,
and lived to be nearly one hundred years old, enjoying the kind regard
and veneration of all who knew her.

_Dan Alexander_, who moved to Hardeman county, Tenn., was born in
Mecklenburg county, in March, 1757.

He first entered the service in 1778, for three months, in Captain
William Alexander's company, (commonly called "Black Bill Alexander,")
and Colonel Irwin's regiment.

In 1780, he served under Captain Thomas Alexander to assist in
guarding the public magazine in Charlotte.

In this same year he served in the expedition to Ramsour's Mill, under
General Rutherford, and afterward, against Tories assembled in the
forks of the Yadkin river, captured several and conveyed them to
Salisbury jail. Soon afterward, he joined the command of Colonel
Davie, and marched in the direction of Camden, S.C. Near the South
Carolina line, they met Gates' retreating army. He represented Gates
as "wearing a _pale blue coat, with epaulettes, velvet breeches, and
riding a bay horse_."

Colonel Davie's command returned, and encamped ten miles north of the
Court House.

His last important service was in forming one of the party dispatched
by Colonel McCall to surprise a guard of eighteen British grenadiers,
stationed at Hart's Mill, near Hillsboro. The movement was successful;
several were killed, six made prisoners, and one escaped in the creek.

_William Alexander_, of Rowan county, entered the service in 1776, and
marched under General Rutherford's command against the Cherokee
Indians, and in that expedition (Sept. 8th,) was wounded in the foot
at the "Seven Mile Mountain."

In 1781, he was elected the Captain of a company of spies, and was in
the ten month's service under Colonel Wade Hampton and General
Sumter, in South Carolina, acting efficiently in this capacity, until
the close of the Revolution.


Joseph Kerr was born in Chester county, Pa., Nov. 3rd, 1750. At an
early age moved with his parents to North Carolina, and settled in
Mecklenburg county. He was a _cripple from infancy_, but becoming
indignant at the ravages of the British and Tories, and actuated with
a true, patriotic spirit, he repaired to the camp of Gen. McDowell and
offered his services as _a spy_. In this capacity Gen. McDowell
accepted him, and immediately sent him to Blackstock's Ford, on Tiger
River, S.C., where the British and Tories were encamped, about fifteen
hundred strong. After secreting his horse he proceeded as _a poor
cripple, and beggar-like_, made a full examination of the enemy's
camp. Furnished with this information, he quietly withdrew, returned
quickly as possible to General McDowell, and apprised him and Captain
Steen of his discoveries. He was well mounted, and traveled day and
night--a distance of ninety miles. General McDowell's forces, upon
this intelligence, marched in great haste, attacked the enemy near
Blackstock's Ford, and routed them. In this engagement four of Captain
Steen's men were killed and seven wounded. He took no prisoners and
gave no quarters. Kerr then returned to Mecklenburg county, and soon
after joined Colonel Williams' command as _a spy_. Captain Steen
informed Colonel Williams that he might safely rely upon Kerr in this
kind of service. They then marched to join the _over-mountain boys_,
under Sevier, Shelby and other officers. Upon the junction of their
forces, a council of war was immediately held, at which Kerr was
present. They learned that Ferguson was about twenty miles from them,
at Peter Quinn's old place, six miles from King's Mountain. The result
of the council of war was that he (Kerr) should go and reconnoiter
Ferguson's camp. He did so without delay, and found the British and
Tories encamped--arms stacked, and about twelve hundred strong.

As a _poor, innocent cripple_, they informed him they were ready and
willing to give "protection" to all who would join them. He soon
afterwards withdrew, mounted his fleet charger, and in a brief space
of time reported to Colonels Shelby, Sevier and other officers the
enemy's strength and situation. Acting upon his report, these officers
marched that night a distance of twenty-seven miles, and reached the
mountain on the next day, about three o'clock. After a brief
consultation as to the plan of the engagement, Ferguson was vigorously
attacked on his boasted eminence of security, and, after a fierce
conflict of about one hour, was completely conquered. Ferguson and two
hundred and twenty-five of his men were killed; one hundred and eighty
wounded, and upwards of six hundred made prisoners. The loss of the
Whigs was twenty-eight killed and a great many wounded. Colonel
Williams was severely wounded in the groin, from the effects of which
he died a few hours after the battle. In a few days after this
victory, Kerr returned to Mecklenburg county, to the house of his
uncle, Joseph Kerr. The brave Captain Steen was afterwards killed by
the Tories. He was from Union county, S.C., and not far from
"Thicketty Mountain," in the district known as Ninety-six.

At the instance of Captain Barnett, in command of some refugees who
returned with him to Mecklenburg, Kerr was sent to York county, S.C.,
to gain information of the enemy's force and position. His crippled
condition readily gained him access to the camp of Colonel Floyd and
Major Hook--the latter in charge of the dragoons. He was recognized by
some of the Tories, and came very near losing his life. He managed,
however, to escape, and traveled all night in order to inform Captain
Barnett of the enemy's strength. Captain Barnett immediately set out
with thirty-one men, and uniting with Captains Bratton and McLure,
completely surprised and routed the enemy, killing ninety-seven, among
the number Major Hook and Colonel Ferguson, of the Tory militia. This
was Kerr's last service as a spy. After the war he moved to Tennessee,
and died in White county, at a good old age.


Robert Kerr, a soldier of the Revolution, was born in December, 1750,
in Chester county, Pennsylvania, and came to North Carolina with his
parents when only three years old.

He first entered the service in 1776, in Captain John McKnitt
Alexander's company, in the expedition, General Rutherford commanding,
against the Cherokee Indians, then severely molesting the frontier

In 1778, he was drafted into Captain John Brownfield's company,
Colonel Frances Locke's regiment, and marched by way of Camden, to the
defence of Charleston. After his return, he served under the same
officers in the battle of Ramsour's Mill, in Lincoln county.

When Cornwallis was in Charlotte in 1780, he served under Captain
James Thompson, the gallant leader of the Spartan band against the
foraging party at McIntire's farm, seven miles from Charlotte, on the
Beattie's Ford road.

In December, 1780, he joined the company of Captain John Sharpe, at
which time, General Davidson, with his accustomed vigilance and
activity, announced that all who would then promptly volunteer for six
weeks, such service should stand for a three months tour. On this
occasion he volunteered, and served under Captain William Henry.

After the death of General Davidson at Cowan's Ford, he was placed in
Colonel Locke's regiment, General Pickens commanding, which forces
were ordered to harass and impede the march of Cornwallis to Guilford
Court House. This was his last important military service.


Henry Hunter was born in the county of Derry, Ireland, on the 11th of
August, 1751. About the time he became of age, he married Martha
Sloan, and, after remaining a little upwards of one year longer in
Ireland, he emigrated to America, and landed at Charleston, S.C.,
after a long and boisterous voyage of thirteen weeks. After reaching
the shores of the New World, to which his fond anticipations of
superior civil and religious privileges had anxiously turned, on
surveying his situation, grim poverty stared him in the face; for, his
stock of cash on hand was just "one silver half dollar." Yet, being
raised to habits of industry, he did not despair, feeling assured
that, "where there is a _will_ there is a _way_" to act in earnest,
and battle against the adverse fortunes of life.

Finding in Charleston a wagon from North Carolina, he made suitable
arrangements with its owner, and accompanied it on its return to
Mecklenburg county, whither his mother and four brothers had emigrated
several years before, and settled in the neighborhood of Poplar Tent
Church. Here, by strict economy, and persevering industry, he was
prospered as a farmer; blest in his "basket and his store," and soon
enabled to purchase a comfortable homestead for himself and his rising

When the war of the Revolution broke out, being deeply imbued from
childhood with the principles of liberty, and the justness of the
American cause, he did not hesitate to assist in the great struggle
for freedom.

He first entered the service of the United States as a volunteer in
Captain William Alexander's company, Colonel George Alexander's
regiment, and marched to suppress a large body of Tories assembled
under Colonel John Moore at Ramsour's Mill, near the present town of
Lincolnton, but failed to reach that place before the battle had been
fought and the Tories signally routed by Colonel Locke and his brave

He next entered the service under Captain Thomas Alexander, and was
ordered to Charlotte for the purpose of guarding the public magazine
in that place. Captain Alexander succeeded in having it removed to a
place of safety on the evening before the entrance of the British army
into Charlotte on the 26th of September, 1780.

He again entered the service a short time afterward, in Captain
William Alexander's company, and Colonel George Alexander's regiment.
The rendezvous of the regiment was about four miles south of
Charlotte. After this service, on account of severe local injury, he
was honorably discharged by Colonel Alexander.

Henry Hunter had twelve children, ten sons and two daughters. He was
signally blest to see them all attain the age of maturity, and settle
on comfortable homes around him. His wife, Martha, the worthy partner
of his joys and sorrows, and whose earthly pilgrimage was protracted
beyond the usual bounds of life, died on the 30th of September, 1832,
in the eightieth year of her age.

He was long a consistent member and ruling Elder of the Associate
Reformed Presbyterian Church. Like a sheaf fully ripe in its season,
he met his approaching end with peaceful resignation. On his
tombstone, in a private cemetery, on the old homestead property, is
the following inscription:

     "In Memory of HENRY HUNTER,
     Who departed this life on the 18th of May, 1836, in the
     eighty-sixth year of his age, leaving a posterity of eleven
     children, and one hundred grand children, with thirty
     great-grand children to mourn his loss."


James Orr was born in Pennsylvania in 1750. He early espoused the
cause of freedom, and first entered the service in a company of
riflemen, commanded by Captain Robert Mebane; marched to Cross Creek
(now Fayetteville), and thence to Wilmington, to the assistance of
Generals Ashe and Moore. In 1776, he volunteered under Captain Thomas
Polk, in Colonel Charles' corps of cavalry, General Rutherford
commanding, and marched against a body of Tories assembled at Cross
Creek, but they were dispersed before the expedition reached that
place. Again, in 1776, he volunteered under Captain Mebane, and
marched from Charlotte to the Quaker Meadows, at the head of the
Catawba River, against the Cherokee Indians, committing murders and
depredations on the frontier settlements. In 1777 he served under
Captain Elaby, Colonel Hicks' regiment, in South Carolina.

In 1780 he served under Captain William Alexander, in Colonel William
Davidson's battalion, General Rutherford commanding, and marched
against the Tories assembled at Ramsour's Mill, in Lincoln county; but
the battle had been fought, and the Tories subdued and routed, before
the expedition reached that place. This was his last important


After the battle of Camden, Cornwallis, believing that he would soon
bring the rebels of North Carolina into speedy submission to the
British Crown, left the scene of his conquest with as little delay as
possible, and designated Charlotte as the most suitable place for his
headquarters. This town had been previously the rallying point, on
many occasions, for the American forces, and from which they marched
by companies, battalions and regiments, to the front, whenever their
services were needed.

Cornwallis entered Charlotte on the 26th of September,
1780. His approach to the town was from the south, on Trade street,
and, after taking possession of the place, his army lay encamped
eighteen days in the old field, or commons, nearly opposite the
residence of the late M.L. Wriston, with the exception of one
regiment, which pitched their tents about midway between Charlotte and
Colonel Polk's mill (late Bissell's). The head-quarters of his
Lordship was in the second house in the rear of the present Springs
building, with a front yard facing on Trade street. Many years after
the war this building, in which Cornwallis slept _unquietly (per
noctem plurima volvens_), was moved round on Tryon street, and
constitutes a part of the house now (1876) occupied by Mr. Taylor,
gunsmith, but so changed and remodeled that little of the original
structure can be identified to remind us of the past.

The skirmish at Charlotte has been pronounced one of the most
"brilliant affairs" of the Revolution; and the correct account of it
will be here given in General Davie's own words, taken from his
auto-biographical sketches in manuscript, and now on file in the
archives of the Historical Society of the State University at Chapel

He says:

     "Charlotte, situated on a rising ground, contains about
     twenty houses, built on two streets, which cross each other
     at right angles, at the intersection of which stands the
     court-house. The left of the town, as the enemy advanced,
     was an open common on the woods, which reached up to the
     gardens of the village. With this small force, viz., one
     hundred and fifty cavalry and mounted infantry, and fourteen
     volunteers, under Major Graham, Davie determined to give his
     Lordship a foretaste of what he might expect in North
     Carolina. For this purpose he dismounted one company, and
     posted it under the court-house, where the men were covered
     breast high by a stone wall. Two other companies were
     advanced about eighty yards, and posted behind some houses,
     and in gardens on each side of the street. While this
     disposition was making, the Legion (Tarleton's) was forming
     at the distance of three hundred yards, with a front to fill
     the street, and the light infantry on their flanks. On
     sounding the charge, the cavalry advanced at full gallop
     within sixty yards of the court-house, where they received
     the American fire, and retreated with great precipitation.

     "As the infantry continued to advance, notwithstanding the
     fire of our advanced companies, who were too few to keep
     them in check, it became necessary to withdraw them from the
     cross street, and form them in line with the troops under
     the court-house. The flanks were still engaged with the
     infantry, but the centre was directed to reserve their fire
     for the cavalry, who rallied on their former ground, and
     returned to the charge.

     "They were again well received by the militia, and galloped
     off in great confusion, in presence of the whole British
     army. As the British infantry were now beginning to turn
     Colonel Davie's right flank, these companies were drawn off
     in good order, successively covering each other, and formed
     at the end of the street, about one hundred yards from the
     court-house, under a galling fire from the British light
     infantry, who had advanced under cover of the houses and
     gardens. The British cavalry again appeared, charging in
     column by the court-house, but upon receiving a fire, which
     had been reserved for them, they again scampered off. Lord
     Cornwallis, in his vexation at the repeated miscarriage of
     his cavalry, openly abused their cowardice. The Legion,
     reinforced by the infantry, pressed forward on our flanks,
     and the ground was no longer tenable by this handful of
     brave men.

     "A retreat was then ordered on the Salisbury road, and the
     enemy followed, with great caution and respect, for some
     miles, when they ventured to charge the rear guards. The
     guards were of course put to flight, but, on receiving the
     fire of a single company, they retreated.

     "Our loss consisted of Lieutenant Locke, and four privates
     killed, and Major Graham and five privates wounded. The
     British stated their loss at twelve non-commissioned
     officers and privates killed, and Major Hanger, Captains
     Campbell and McDonald, and thirty privates wounded."

This action, although it subjects Colonel Davie to the charge of
temerity, only to be excused by the event, and a zeal which we are
always ready to applaud, furnishes a striking instance of the bravery
and importance of the American militia. Few instances can be shown
where any troops, who in one action, changed their position twice in
good order, although pressed by superior force, and charged three
times by cavalry, thrice their own number, unsupported, in presence of
an enemy's whole army, and finally retreating in perfect order.

The graphic account of the skirmish at, and near Charlotte, from
Colonel Davie's manuscript sketches, corrects a mistake into which
several historians have unintentionally fallen in stating that Colonel
Francis Locke was killed in the retreat near Sugar Creek Church, when,
on the contrary, it was one of his younger brothers, Lieutenant George
Locke, a brave and meritorious officer. This statement is confirmed by
the notice of the family of "Hon. Matthew Locke," in Wheeler's
"Historical Sketches," by the sworn declaration of William Rankin, of
Gaston county, who received his discharge from Colonel Locke in
Salisbury, near the time of the battle of Guilford, in March, 1781,
and by the declaration of Michael McLeary, of Mecklenburg, who served
under Colonel Locke after Cornwallis crossed the Catawba in February,
1781, as will be found published in this work.

The reader may be curious to know the estimate the British officers
placed upon this affair--the hornets-like reception his Lordship
experienced on his entrance into Charlotte.

Tarleton, in his "History of the Southern Campaign in 1780, and 1781,"
page 159, says, "Earl Cornwallis moved forward as soon as the Legion
under Major Hanger joined him. A party of militia fired at the
advanced dragoons and light infantry as they entered the town, and a
more considerable body appeared drawn up near the courthouse. The
conduct of the Americans created suspicion in the British; an
ambuscade was apprehended by the light troops, who moved forward, for
some time, with great circumspection; a charge of cavalry, under Major
Hanger, dissipated this ill-grounded jealousy, and totally dispersed
the militia. The pursuit lasted sometime, and about thirty of the
enemy were killed and taken. The King's troops did not come out of
this skirmish unhurt; Major Hanger, and Captains Campbell and McDonald
were wounded, and twelve non-commissioned officers and men killed or

Stedman, the English historian who accompanied Cornwallis in his
southern campaign, says in his "American War," Vol. II, p. 216,

     "Charlotte was taken possession of, after a slight
     resistance from the militia, towards the end of September.
     At this period, Major Hanger commanded, Colonel Tarleton
     being ill. In the centre of Charlotte, intersecting the two
     principal streets, stood a large brick building, the upper
     part being the court-house, and the under part, the market
     house. Behind the shambles, a few Americans on horse-back
     had placed themselves. The Legion was ordered to drive them
     off; but, upon receiving a fire from behind the stalls, this
     corps fell back. Lord Cornwallis rode up in person, and made
     use of these words: 'Legion, remember you have everything to
     lose, but nothing to gain,' alluding, as was supposed, to
     the former reputation of this corps. Webster's brigade moved
     on, and drove the Americans from behind the court-house: the
     legion then pursued them, but the whole British army was
     actually kept at bay, for some minutes, by a few mounted
     Americans, not exceeding twenty in number."

Stedman, who is generally accurate and impartial in his narratives, is
mistaken in calling the old court-house a "brick building." It was, as
previously stated, a wooden building, placed on brick pillars ten or
twelve feet high, and hence the mistake. Some allowance should also be
made for Stedman's mistake, as, very near that time, the fierce and
buzzing attacks of the "Hornets" greatly obscured the accuracy of his
vision. Upon the whole, the account we have of this skirmish, even
under British _coloring_, and evasion of the _whole truth_,
exemplifies the spirit and bravery of the "handful" of men who
actually kept the whole British army in check for some time, and then
retreated in good order.

Kendal, in his "Life of Jackson," chapter 4, in speaking of the
military school in which the "hero of New Orleans" was educated, says:

     "In the chieftains by which he was surrounded, the virtues
     of patriotism, disinterestedness, caution, enterprise and
     courage exhibited themselves in the highest perfection. As
     military leaders, Marion was particularly distinguished for
     enterprise, vigilance and courage; Sumter was his equal in
     enterprise and courage, but had less circumspection; Davie,
     who was generally the leader of the Waxhaw settlers, appears
     to have united the virtues of the two. Perhaps in no
     instance, where the chief command was in him, did he fail to
     accomplish the object he undertook. His intelligence was
     accurate; his plans judicious, and kept profoundly secret;
     his movements rapid; his blows sudden as the lightning, and
     his disappearance almost as quick. To pursue him was
     useless, and it was seldom or never attempted. He frequently
     dared, with a handful of men, to face an army; and we have
     seen, by his encounter with the British van at Charlotte,
     that he knew how to strike terror into an enemy he was not
     strong enough to conquer."

The situation of Cornwallis in Charlotte was far from being agreeable.
The sentinels placed around his encampment were frequently shot down,
compelling him to have pits sunk, five or six feet deep, for their
protection. He possessed, it is true, a few timid friends and
supporters in the adjacent country, but these could not render him any
material aid. The panic which had overspread South Carolina, after the
British successes in that State. had extended itself, though in a less
degree, into North Carolina, and had driven many of the wealthier
class to "take protection," and thus save their property. But
notwithstanding the terror of arms which preceded his arrival,
Cornwallis soon became convinced that his situation was surrounded
with humiliating realities which he could not easily remove. The
reasons assigned by Tarleton are truthfully set forth, when he says,
"Charlotte town afforded some conveniences, blended with great
disadvantages. The mills in its neighborhood were supposed of
sufficient consequence to render it for the present an eligible
position, and in future a necessary post, when the enemy advanced. But
the aptness of its intermediate situation between Camden and
Salisbury, and the quantity of mills did not counterbalance these
defects." And again he says, "It was evident, and had been frequently
mentioned to the King's officers, that the counties of Mecklenburg and
Rohan (Rowan) were more hostile to England than any others in America.
The vigilance and animosity of these surrounding districts checked the
exertions of the well-affected, and totally destroyed all
communication between the King's troops and loyalists in other parts
of the province. No British commander could obtain any information in
that position which would facilitate his designs, or guide his future

No higher encomium of the principles and patriotism of the people of
North Carolina could have been well given. It is the testimony of an
eye-witness, and he a cruel enemy, with the best means of information
before him. Tarleton goes on to say, "The town and its environs
abounded with inveterate enemies. The plantations in the neighborhood
were small and uncultivated; the roads narrow and crossed in every
direction; and the whole face of the country covered with close and
thick woods. In addition to these disadvantages, no estimation could
be made of the sentiments of half the inhabitants of North Carolina
whilst the royal army remained in Charlotte."

And, again, Tarleton informs us, "The foraging parties were every day
harassed by the inhabitants, who did not remain at home to receive
payment for the product of their plantations, but generally fired from
covert places to annoy the British detachments. Ineffectual attempts
were made upon convoys coming from Camden, and the intermediate post
at Blair's Mill, but individuals with expresses were frequently
murdered. An attack was directed against the picket at Polk's Mill,
two miles from the town. The Americans were gallantly received by
Lieutenant Guyon, of the 23rd Regiment; and the fire of his party,
from a loop-holed building adjoining the mill, repulsed the
assailants. Notwithstanding the different checks and losses sustained
by the militia of the district, they continued their hostilities with
unwearied perseverance; and the British troops were so effectually
blockaded in their present position, that very few, out of a great
many messengers, could reach Charlotte in the beginning of October, to
give intelligence of Ferguson's situation."

The repulse at McIntyre's, elsewhere noticed in these sketches, is a
good illustration of what Tarleton says in these quotations. Truly,
the "Hornets" were enraged about that time--more vigilant and
out-flying than ever before; but it should be borne in mind they were
then fighting the invaders of their own soil, and in defence of the
undisturbed enjoyments of "home, sweet home."

Stedman describes, in much the same terms as Tarleton has done, the
difficulties encountered by the British in procuring supplies for
their army. He says:

     "In Col. Polk's mill were found 28,000 lbs. of flour and a
     quantity of wheat. There were several large cultivated farms
     in the neighborhood of Charlotte. An abundance of cattle,
     few sheep; the cattle mostly milch cows, or cows with calf,
     which, at that season of the year, was the best beef. When
     the army was in Charlotte we killed, upon an average, one
     hundred head per day. The leanness of the cattle will
     account for the number killed each day. At this period the
     royal army was supported by Lord Rawdon's moving with one
     half of the army one day, and Colonel Webster with the other
     half the next day, as a covering party to protect the
     foraging parties and cattle drivers."

The English people had then, as now, the reputation of being great
beef-eaters; nor should we blame them, as the florid complexion the
Englishman generally wears is mainly owing to the free use of this
non-febrile and healthy food, washed down with a few potations of good
old London ale.

The surprise at McIntyre's compelled the British to move with greater
forces in their foraging expeditions. It is seldom, in the historic
annals of any people, that we find it required "one half" of a large
army, in a sparsely settled country, to "protect the foraging parties
and cattle drivers." It indicated a spirit of determined resistance by
the patriots of Mecklenburg and of the State generally, which can only
be construed as a faithful maintenance of the principles of freedom
proclaimed on the 20th of May, 1775.

After the victory of the Whigs at King's Mountain, and the loss of
Ferguson, one of his bravest officers, and his entire command,
Cornwallis concluded to leave the rebellious post he then occupied.

William McCafferty, a resident Scotchman, and a man of considerable
wealth, was employed as the guide to lead the British army by the
nearest road to Winnsboro, S.C. Tradition says, that after so
bewildering the army in the swamps that much of their baggage was
lost, he contrived to escape, and left them to find their way out, as
best they could, by the returning light of day. As the British army
progressed, passing through the Steele Creek neighborhood, they
encamped about three days on Spratt's plantation, waiting to cross the
swollen Catawba, and for the collection of additional supplies. A
guard was placed around the encampment, and one of the number assigned
to a position between the Charlotte road and a neighboring cane-brake.
On the second or third day the sharp crack of a rifle was heard up the
Charlotte road, and a small detachment of the British army was
immediately dispatched to investigate its meaning. When the detachment
arrived at the position of the sentinel, he was found dead, at the
foot of a black oak, against which it is supposed he was leaning at
the time. Captain William Alexander (better known as "Black Bill,")
one of the "terrible Mecklenburg Whigs," fired the fatal shot from the
adjoining cane-brake. Many others of the Sugar Creek rebels were with
Captain Alexander on this occasion, but he alone ventured within
killing distance. Long before Tarleton and his dragoons could reach
the scene of action, Alexander and his party were entering the brushy
woods of Steele Creek, on their way back to the Whig settlements of
Upper Sugar Creek. The associates of Alexander were the Taylors,
Barnetts, Walkers, Polks, and other kindred spirits, who shot many of
the sentries around the British encampment at Charlotte, and seriously
annoyed or cut off the enemy's foraging parties. The last one of the
Barnetts, belonging to this "terrible party," died in 1829, at a good
old age, within two miles of Cook's mills, on Big Sugar Creek.

A singular incident, occurring at this period, is here deemed worthy
of narration. A relative of the Spratts, named Elliott, was living on
the plantation at the time the British army arrived there from
Charlotte. Believing that they would capture him, if in their power,
he broke and ran for the cane-brake, about a half or three-quarters of
a mile below the spot where the sentinel was shot. As soon as the
alarm was given of his departure, Tarleton's terrible dragoons pursued
him, but he succeeded in making good his escape into the densest part
of the cane-brake thicket.

While he was listening to the terrible denunciations of Tarleton's
dragoons on their arrival at the swampy and imperious thicket, and
what they would do if they could only see a bush or a cane move, he
felt perfectly safe as long as he could remain motionless in his muddy
retreat. But when his fears had somewhat subsided in his place of
concealment, still more alarming apprehensions of danger presented
themselves, on his espying a venomous moccasin of the largest size,
moving slowly along in the water and mud, and directing its course so
near that, in all probability, it must strike him. He could not make
the least defence against his ugly approaching visitor, for fear of
exposing himself to the pistols of the British dragoons. All that he
could do in this dreadful predicament was to wave his hand in a gentle
manner towards the snake, which caused it to stop its course and throw
itself into a coil, preparatory for battle. Fortunately, just at this
time, the British dragoons made their welcome departure, and Elliott
moved out of the way of his serpentine majesty.

This was the _first_ and _last_ visit of Lord Cornwallis to "Charlotte
town." He came flushed with victory, and firmly anticipated similar
success in North Carolina. He departed laboring under vexation and
sore disappointment; not without bestowing a characteristic name
("Hornets' Nest") upon the patriotic sons of Mecklenburg around which
appellation cluster many thrilling historical and traditional
associations, destined to enshrine their memories in the hearts of
their countrymen, throughout all coming time.


After the British army had been in Charlotte about a week, and having,
in the meantime, consumed the most of their forage and provisions,
Lord Cornwallis was placed under the necessity of procuring a fresh
supply. He had already experienced something of the _stinging_
propensities of the "hornets" with which he was surrounded, and the
fatalities of their attacks upon his sentries near his camp. In order
to meet the emergency of his situation, he ordered out on the 3d day
of October, 1780, a strong foraging party, under Major Doyle,
consisting of four hundred and fifty infantry, sixty cavalry, and
about forty wagons, who proceeded up the road leading from Charlotte
to Beattie's Ford, on the Catawba river, intending to draw their
supplies from the fertile plantations on Long Creek.

Captain James Thompson, and thirteen others who lived in that
neighborhood, anticipating the necessity the British would be under to
forage, had early in the morning assembled at Mitchell's mill, (now
Frazier's) three miles from Charlotte, at which farm the corn was
pulled--at most other places it was standing in the field. Captain
Thompson and his men were expert riflemen, and well acquainted with
every place in the vicinity. At this place they lay concealed about an
hour, when they heard the wagons and Doyle's party passing by them and
up the main road. As soon as the party had passed about half a mile,
Captain Thompson and his brave followers started through the wood, and
kept parallel with Doyle's party, and _almost in sight_,
reconnoitering the movements of the enemy until they reached
McIntyre's farm, seven miles from Charlotte. A boy plowing by the
road-side, upon seeing the British soldiers pass by him, quickly
mounted his horse, dashed through the nearest by-paths, and barely had
time to warn the intervening families of the approach of the "red
coats." After the foraging party reached McIntyre's, they left a part
of their men and wagons to lay in supplies, while the other part
passed on under Doyle with the expectation of proceeding two or three
miles further. For this reason, Doyle was not _numbered with the
slain_ in place of his second in command.

Thompson's party, finding some were halted at this place, moved
directly towards the thicket down the spring branch, about two hundred
yards from the house. The point of a rocky ridge, covered with bushes,
passed obliquely from the road to the spring, and within fifty yards
of the house which sheltered them from the view or fire of the enemy.
They formed into a line about ten feet apart, and advanced silently to
their intended positions. The British were soon engaged in their work
of plunder; some were at the barn throwing down oats for the wagons,
others were running after the chickens, ducks and pigs, while a third
party were robbing the dwelling house, the inmates having previously
fled out of danger. The soldiery, assisted by the dogs in chasing the
poultry, had knocked over some bee-hives ranged along the garden
fence. The enraged insects dashed after the men, and at once the scene
became one of uproar, confusion and lively excitement. The officer in
command, a portly, florid Englishman, laughed heartily at the gestures
and outcries of the routed soldiers. The attention of the guard was
drawn to this single point, while, at a distance in the fields, the
wagons were seen slowly approaching with their cumbrous loads.

The owner of the plantation had cautiously approached,
under cover, within gun-shot of his house; the rest of the party, his
neighbors, with equal care, advanced sufficiently near for the sure
action of their rifles. The distress and anger of the patriots were
raised to the highest pitch when they saw the reckless merriment of
their enemies, and the fruits of their industry thus suddenly
withdrawn. Their feelings could now be no longer restrained while they
were anxious to try the effects of their trusty rifles. "Boys," cried
one of the sturdy farmers, "I can't stand this any longer--I'll take
the captain--each one of you choose his man, and look out for

These words were scarcely uttered in a suppressed tone, when the sight
of his unerring rifle was drawn upon the expanded breast of the portly
Englishman, who suddenly fell prostrate from the doorposts between
which he was standing.

In two instances, where two of the patriots were firing at the same
man, and seeing him fall, the second one had to quickly change from
his _sighted object_ and seek another. A sentinel placed near the spot
to which they had advanced, appeared to be alarmed, although he had
not seen them, probably thinking of the fate of others in his
situation around the camp of Cornwallis in Charlotte. Nor were his
fears unduly excited.

Captain Thompson, at the distance of seventy or seventy-five yards,
killed him instantly, when his companions, with a precision of aim
equally fatal, laid low on the earth his respective foe. To Captain
Thompson is also ascribed the honor of mortally wounding the
commanding officer, when he was standing near the barn door. He was
conveyed to Charlotte, with several others in similar condition, in
one of the foraging wagons, and died of the wound received, at the
house of Samuel McCombs, two days after. When the smoke rose, after
the first discharge of the rifles, the commander, nine men and two
horses lay dead or wounded on the ground. The trumpets immediately
sounded a recall. But by the time the scattered dragoons had collected
and formed, a straggling fire from a different direction, into which
the patriots had extended, showed the unerring aim of each American
marksman, and greatly increased the confusion of the surprise.
Perfectly acquainted with every foot of the grounds, the patriots
constantly changed their position, giving in their fire as they
loaded, so that it appeared to the British they were surrounded by a
large force. When that portion of Doyle's command who had proceeded
forward to forage upon other farms heard the firing, they immediately
returned to the assistance of his party at McIntyre's branch. Every
preparation for defence, attack and retreat was made by the Americans.
The alternate hilly and swampy grounds and thickets, with woods on
both sides of the public road, baffled the efficient action of the
British dragoons. Some dismounted, while others called out to "set on
the hounds" against a foe scarcely visible, except from their deadly
effects. The dogs, at first, seemed to take the track, and were
followed by the soldiers. The foremost hound approached very near one
of the patriots who had just discharged his rifle, and was in full
retreat after his companions; but as soon as the hound came near with
open mouth, he was shot dead by a pistol drawn from the breast of the
rifleman. The next hound stopped at the dead body, and, after smelling
it, gave a whining howl, and the whole pack retreated from the

A considerable number of the dragoons were killed. The leading horses
in the wagons were killed before they could ascend the hill, thus
blocking up the road. Many of the soldiers in charge of the wagons cut
loose some of the uninjured animals, and galloped after their
retreating comrades. The precise loss of the British is not known. It
is believed, however, from reliable tradition, that they had at least
twenty killed and _a few_ wounded.

That a British detachment of four hundred and fifty infantry and sixty
cavalry should be compelled to desist from a foraging expedition and
return to Charlotte with only a small amount of provisions and a
considerable loss of their number by a handful of patriots, well
exemplifies the vigilance, pertinacity and courage of the "hornets" of
Mecklenburg in endeavoring to protect their homes, and repel the
invaders of their soil.

The country people, early advised of the advance of the foraging
party, mounted their horses, rifle in hand, from every direction; and,
occupying well protected positions along the main road, also
faithfully endeavored to diminish the number of his Majesty's forces,
and hastened the retreat of the British into Charlotte, the survivors
swearing after their arrival that "every bush along the road concealed
a rebel."

The names of this gallant band of patriots, of "Hornets' Nest"
notoriety, were: 1. James Thompson, captain; 2. Francis Bradley; 3.
George Graham; 4. James Henry; 5. Thomas Dickson; 6. John Dickson; 7.
George Houston; 8. Hugh Houston; 9. Thomas McLure; 10. John Long; 11.
John Robinson; 12. George Shipley; 13. Edward Shipley.

REMARKS.--Tradition says Francis Bradley was a large and very strong
man, and a "terror" to the British as well as the Tories. The British
officers were extremely anxious to take him as a prisoner, for his
activity in harassing their scouts and foraging parties, and more
particularly for the fatal aim of his rifle in _picking off_ their
sentries while their army was encamped at Charlotte. The rifle he
carried for six years during the Revolution, and which did such
_telling_ execution, was the property of Major John Davidson (now in
possession of one of his grandsons,) who, being a staff officer, could
not make it perform, as it should, its death-dealing mission upon the
enemies of his country. About three weeks after the gallant affair at
McIntyre's Branch, Bradley was attacked, overpowered and killed by
four lurking and base-hearted Tories (said not to be natives of the
county). His mortal remains now repose in the graveyard at Hopewell
Church, where also sleep many of his illustrious compatriots in arms.
On his gravestone are sculptured two drawn and crossed swords, and
beneath them the motto, _Arma Libertatis_. The inscription reads thus:

     "In memory of
     A friend of his country, and privately slain by the enemie
     of his country, November 14th, 1780, aged 37 years."

The two Dicksons moved to Tennessee; the two Houstons and McLure moved
to Kentucky; Robinson settled on Crowder's Creek, Gaston county.

Doyle, the British commander, before the close of the war was made a
Colonel, and afterward a Brigadier-General. In 1816 he was styled Sir
John Doyle, and Governor of the Islands of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney
and Sark, on the coast of France. Surely, it could not have been for
his gallant behavior at McIntyre's he acquired such honor and


Judge Lowrie was born in New Castle county, Del., on the 12th of May,
1756. His parents moved, when he was a child, to North Carolina, and
settled in Rowan county. He was educated at Clio Academy (now in
Iredell county) under the Rev. James Hall, an eminent Presbyterian
minister of the gospel, and Captain of a company during the
Revolutionary War. He studied law in Camden, S.C., and, soon gaining
eminence in his profession, was elected to the House of Commons from
Mecklenburg county in 1804,-'5 and '6. In the last named year he was
elected a Judge of the Superior Court, which position he held until
his death on the 22d of December, 1818, in the sixty-third year of his

In 1788, he married Margaret, eldest daughter of Captain Robert
Alexander, of Lincoln county. His wife died, leaving him with several
children. In 1811, he again married, Mary, daughter of Marmaduke
Norfleet, of Bertie county, N.C. He was a man of fine talents, and
dignified the responsible position he held. He resided in Mecklenburg
county, about three miles north from the Tuckasege Ford, on the
Salisbury road, (now owned by Robert S. McGee, Esq.)

His mortal remains, with those of his first wife and three infant
children, and other relatives, repose in the graveyard of Goshen
Church, Gaston county, N.C.


It has been well said that "patriotic mothers nursed the infancy of
the Republic." During the progress of British encroachment and
arbitrary power, producing great colonial discontent, every sagacious
politician could discern in the distant future the portentous shadow
of the approaching conflict. In the domestic circle was then nurtured
and imparted that love of civil liberty which afterwards kindled into
a flame, and shed its genial and transforming light upon the world.
The conversation of matrons in their homes, or among their neighbors,
was of the people's wrongs and of the tyranny that oppressed them.
Under such early training their sons, when grown to manhood, deeply
imbued with proper notions of their just rights, stood up in the hour
of trial prepared to defend them to the last. The counsels and the
prayers of mothers mingled with their deliberations, and added
sanctity to all their patriotic efforts for American independence.
They animated the courage, confirmed the self-devotion, and shared in
the sacrifices of those who, in the common defence, "pledged their
lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor."

Among the widowed mothers who early instilled into their rising
generation a deep love of their country, and a manful determination to
defend their firesides and their homes, might be named Mrs. Steele,
Mrs. Flinn, Mrs. Sharpe, Mrs. Graham, Mrs. Hunter, Mrs. Jackson and
many others, as bright examples in Mecklenburg, Rowan and adjoining
counties. In the hour of deepest gloom they frowned upon apathy in the
common cause, materially assisted by their benefactions, and urged on
the desponding in the path of patriotic duty.

General Moultrie, in his "Memoirs of the American Revolution," pays a
handsome compliment to the ladies of that section of country in which
his military services were performed. He says:

     "Before I conclude my memoirs I must make my last tribute of
     thanks to the patriotic fair of South Carolina and Georgia
     for their heroism and virtue in those dreadful and dangerous
     times whilst we were struggling for our liberties. Their
     conduct deserves the highest applause, and a pillar ought to
     be raised to their memory. Their conduct was such as gave
     examples even to the men to stand firm; and they despised
     those who were not enthusiasts in their country's cause. The
     hardships and difficulties they experienced were too much
     for their delicate frames to bear; yet they submitted to
     them with a heroism and virtue that has never been excelled
     by the ladies of any country; and I can with safety say that
     their conduct during the war contributed much to the
     independence of America."

Nor were the young ladies of that period less patriotic than their
venerable mothers. Their kind sympathies and voluntary contributions
were exhibited on every occasion, calling for prompt and beneficent
action for the gallant soldier. With fair and willing hands they
embroidered colors for military companies, and presented them with the
animating charge, _never to desert them_. They formed themselves into
associations throughout the colonies, renouncing the use of teas and
other imported luxuries, and engaged to card, spin and weave their own
clothing. And still further, to arouse a patriotic spirit in every
hesitating or laggard bosom, we find in the "South Carolina and
American General Gazette," of February 9th, 1776, the following
paragraph, illustrative of female patriotism under a manly and
_singular_ incentive:

     "The young ladies of the best families of Mecklenburg
     county, North Carolina, have entered into a voluntary
     association that they will not receive the addresses of any
     young gentlemen of that place, except the brave volunteers
     who served in the expedition to South Carolina, and assisted
     in subduing the Scovillite insurgents. The ladies being of
     opinion that such persons as stay loitering at home, when
     the important calls of their country demand their military
     services abroad, must certainly be destitute of that
     nobleness of sentiment, that brave, manly spirit, which
     would qualify them to be the defenders and guardians of the
     fair sex. The ladies of the adjoining county of Rowan have
     desired the plan of a similar association to be drawn up and
     prepared for signature."

Accordingly, at a meeting of the Committee of Safety, held in
Salisbury, May 8th, 1776, we find the following entry in their

     "A letter from a number of young ladies in the county,
     directed to the chairman, requesting the approbation of the
     committee to a number of resolutions enclosed, entered into,
     and signed by the same young ladies being read,

     "_Resolved_, That this committee present their cordial
     thanks to the said young ladies for so spirited a
     performance; look upon these resolutions to be sensible and
     polite; that they merit the honor, and are worthy the
     imitation of every young lady in America."

And who were the young ladies of Mecklenburg and Rowan counties then
prepared to sign such an association, and willing to bestow their fair
hands, and pledge their loving hearts _only to those brave soldiers_,
who, on the calls of duty, fought the battles of their country?
Imagination carries us back to that eventful period, and pictures to
our admiring view, among others, the following daughters of Western
Carolina, as actuated by such patriotic motives:

Miss Elizabeth Alexander, daughter of Abraham Alexander, Chairman of
the Mecklenburg Convention of the 20th of May, 1775, who married
William Alexander, son of Hezekiah Alexander, one of the signers of
the Mecklenburg Declaration.

Miss Mary Wilson, daughter of Samuel Wilson, Sen., who married Ezekiel
Polk, grandfather of James K. Polk, one of our best Presidents, who
consented to serve _only for one term_.

Miss Violet Wilson, sister of the above, who married Major John
Davidson, one of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration.

Miss Jane Morrison, daughter of Neill Morrison, one of the signers of
the Mecklenburg Declaration, who married Major Thomas Alexander.

Miss Polk, daughter of Colonel Thomas Polk, who married Dr. Ephraim
Brevard, one of the secretaries and signers of the Mecklenburg

Miss Margaret Polk, sister of the above, who married Nathaniel
Alexander, Representative to Congress from 1803 to 1805, and in the
latter year, elected Governor of the State.

Miss Jane Brevard, daughter of John Brevard, and sister of the "seven
brothers in the rebel army," who married General Ephraim Davidson.

Miss Mary Brevard, sister of the above, who married General William
Davidson, killed at Cowan's Ford, on February 1st, 1781.

Miss Charity Jack, sister of Captain James Jack, the bearer of the
Mecklenburg Declaration to Philadelphia, who married Dr. Cornelius
Dysart, a distinguished surgeon of the Revolutionary army.

Miss Lillis Wilson, daughter of Samuel Wilson, Sen., by the third wife
(Margaret Jack), who married James Connor, a native of Ireland, who
came to America when 21 years old, volunteered in the army, and fought
all through the Revolutionary war.

Miss Hannah Knox, daughter of Captain Patrick Knox, killed at the
battle of Ramsour's Mill, who married Samuel Wilson, a soldier of the

These are the names of a few of the patriotic young ladies, then on
the theater of action, who would be willing to sign such an
association, stimulate the "loitering young men" to a proper sense of
their duty, and promote the cause of freedom by all _fair means_.


The wives and mothers of Mecklenburg county bore a large share of the
trials and dangers of the Revolution. Among these, and as a fair type
of many others that might be mentioned, was Eleanor, wife of Robert
Wilson, of Steele Creek--a woman of singular energy of mind, and
warmly devoted to the American cause. Her husband, with three brothers
and other kinsmen, settled in Mecklenburg about 1760, having moved
from the colony of Pennsylvania. These brothers were Scotch
Presbyterians, and arrayed by early religious education against
tyranny in every form. At the Convention in Charlotte on the 20th of
May, 1775, Zaccheus Wilson, representing all his kinsmen, signed that
declaration, pledging himself, and his extensive connections, to its
support and maintenance. At this crisis of our history there were a
considerable number of timid persons, who shook their heads and
characterized the actors in this opening scene of the bloody drama of
the Revolution, as _madmen, rebels and traitors_. From the first to
the last, Mrs. Wilson espoused the cause of liberty, and exulted in
every patriotic success.

Animated by her enthusiasm, her husband and sons entered warmly into
the contest. At the surrender of Charleston, her sons, Robert and
Joseph, were made prisoners, but having given their parols, were
allowed to return home. But they had scarcely reached their home in
Mecklenburg when the British general issued his proclamation declaring
the country subdued, and requiring every able-bodied militiaman to
join the royal standard. Refusing to fight against their country, and
being no longer bound as they believed, by their parols, they
immediately repaired to the standard of General Sumter, and were with
him in several battles. In the battle of the Hanging Rock, Captain
David Reid, one of their kinsmen, was mortally wounded, and being in
great agony, called for water, when Robert Wilson brought him some in
his hat. In the same action, Joseph, a little in advance, was
assaulted by a Tory, a powerful man, whom he knew; after a severe
struggle, he killed him, and bore off his sword, now in possession of
his son, David Wilson, of Maine county, Tennessee.

The elder Robert Wilson and his son John, having collected a supply of
provisions and forage for General Sumter's corps, from the
neighborhood of Steele Creek, were hastening to meet them at Fishing
Creek, and reached that vicinity a short time after the surprise.
While engaged in this employment, the two Wilsons and the supplies
were captured. The prisoners were hurried to the rear, after having
been brutally threatened with hanging on the nearest tree, and by a
forced march reached Camden next day, where they were added to a crowd
of honorable captives, such as Andrew Jackson, Colonel Isaacs, General
Rutherford and others.

In the meantime, Cornwallis, leaving Rawdon at Camden, marched with
the larger portion of his army to "rebellious" Charlotte, to forage
upon its farms, and to punish its inhabitants for their well-known
resistance to royal authority. He reached Charlotte on the 26th of
September, 1780, and during his stay of eighteen days, many scenes of
rapine, house burnings and plunderings took place in and around that
place. But the bold Whigs of Mecklenburg--the "hornets" of that
section--although unable to keep the open field, were vigilant and at
work, constantly popping the sentinels, and insolent dragoons of
Tarleton, sent out as scouts and on foraging excursions. Becoming
uneasy by these bold attacks of the rebels, frequently driving his
foraging parties within sight of his camp, Cornwallis, when he heard
of the defeat of Ferguson at King's Mountain, concentrated his army,
and, on the 14th of October, commenced his retrograde march towards
Winnsboro, S.C. During this march, the British army halted for the
night at Wilson's plantation, near Steele Creek. Cornwallis and
Tarleton occupied the house of Mrs. Wilson, requiring her to prepare a
meal for them as though they had been her friends. Cornwallis, in the
meantime, finding out that her husband and one of her sons were his
prisoners in the Camden jail, artfully attempted to enlist her in the
King's cause.

"Madam, said he, your husband and son, are my prisoners; the fortune
of war may soon place others of your sons--perhaps all your kinsmen,
in my power. Your sons are young, aspiring, and brave. In a good
cause, fighting for a generous and powerful king, such as George III.,
they might hope for rank, honor and wealth. If you could but induce
your husband and sons to leave the rebels, and take up arms for their
lawful sovereign, I would almost pledge myself that they shall have
rank and consideration in the British army. If you, madam, will pledge
yourself to induce them to do so, I will immediately order their

To this artful appeal, Mrs. Wilson replied that "her husband and
children were indeed dear to her, and that she was willing to do
anything she thought right to promote their real and permanent
welfare; but, in this instance, they had embarked in the holy cause of
liberty; had fought and struggled for it during five years, never
faltering for a moment, while others had fled from the contest, and
yielded up their hopes at the first obstacle. I have," she continued,
"seven sons who are now, or have been, bearing arms--indeed, my
seventh son, Zaccheus, who is only fifteen years old, I yesterday
assisted to get ready to go and join his brothers in Sumter's army.
Now, sooner than see one of my family turn back from the glorious
enterprise, I would take these boys (pointing to three or four small
sons) and would myself enlist under Sumter's standard, and show my
husband and sons how to fight, and, if necessary, to die for their

"Ah General," interrupted the cold-hearted Tarleton, "I think you've
got into a hornet's nest! Never mind, when we get to Camden, I'll take
good care that old Robin Wilson never comes back."

On the next day's march, a party of scouts captured Zaccheus, who was
found on the flank of the British army with his gun, endeavoring to
diminish the number of His Majesty's forces. He was immediately
conducted to Cornwallis, who, finding out his name, took him along as
a guide to the best ford on the Catawba. Arriving at the river, the
head of the army entered at the point designated by the lad, but the
soldiers soon found themselves in deep water, and drawn by a rapid
current down the stream. Cornwallis, believing that the boy had
purposely led him into deep water in order to embarrass his march,
drew his sword, and swore he would cut off his head for his treachery.
Zaccheus replied that he had the power to do so, as he had no arms,
and was his prisoner; "but, sir," said this resolute boy, "don't you
think it would be a cowardly act for you to strike an unarmed boy with
your sword. If I had but the half of your weapon, it would not be so
cowardly, but then you know, it would not be so safe."

Cornwallis, struck by the boy's cool courage, calmed down, told him he
was a fine fellow, and that he would not hurt a hair of his head.
Having discovered that the ford was shallow enough by bearing up the
stream, the British army crossed over it safely, and proceeded to

On this march, Cornwallis dismissed Zaccheus, telling him to go home
and take care of his mother, and to tell her to keep her boys at home.
After he reached Winnsboro, he dispatched an order to Rawdon, at
Camden, to send Robin Wilson and his son John, with several others, to
Charleston, carefully guarded. Accordingly, about the 20th of
November, Wilson, his son, and ten others, set off under the escort of
an officer and fifteen or twenty men. Wilson formed several plans of
making his escape, but owing to the presence of large parties of the
enemy, they could not be executed. At length, being near Fort Watson,
they encamped before night, the prisoners being placed in the yard,
and the guard in the house and in the portico. In a short time the
arms of the guard were ordered to be stacked in the portico, a
sentinel placed over them, and all others were soon busily engaged in
preparing their evening meal. The prisoners, in the meantime, having
bribed a soldier to buy some whiskey, as it was a rainy day,
_pretended_ to drink freely of it themselves, and one of them
seemingly more intoxicated than the rest, insisted upon treating the
sentinel. Wilson followed him, as if to prevent him from treating the
sentinel, it being a breach of military order. Watching a favorable
opportunity, he seized the sentinel's musket, and the drunken man
suddenly becoming sober, seized the sentinel. At this signal, the
prisoners--like vigilant hornets, rushed to the stacked arms in the
portico, when the guard, taking the alarm, rushed out of the house.
But it was too late; the prisoners secured the arms, drove the
soldiers into the house at the point of the bayonet, and the whole
guard surrendered at discretion. Unable to take off their prisoners,
Wilson made them all hold up their right hands and swear never again
to bear arms against the "cause of liberty, and the Continental
Congress," and then told them they might go to Charleston on parole;
but if he ever found "a single mother's son of them in arms again, he
would hang him up to a tree like a dog."

Wilson had scarcely disposed of his prisoners before a party of
British dragoons came in sight. As the only means of escape, they
separated into several small companies, and took to the woods. Some of
them reached Marion's camp at Snow Island, and Wilson, with two or
three others, arrived safely in Mecklenburg, over two hundred miles
distant, and through a country overrun with British troops.

Mrs. Wilson was the mother of eleven sons. She and her husband lived
to a good old age, were worthy and consistent members of the
Presbyterian Church, died near the same time, in 1810, and are buried
in Steele Creek graveyard.

About 1792, all the sons moved to Tennessee, where at the present
time, and in other portions of the West, their descendants may be
counted by the hundreds. Robert Wilson, who was said to be the first
man that crossed the Cumberland mountains with a wagon, married Jane,
a daughter of William and Ellen McDowell, of York county, S.C. Both
Jane and her mother went to King's Mountain after the battle, and
remained several days in ministering to the wants of the wounded
soldiers. It was mainly on the account of Robert Wilson's
distinguished bravery at King's Mountain that William McDowell gave
him his daughter Jane in marriage--a worthy gift, and worthily
bestowed on a gallant soldier.


One of the most useful institutions of the Revolutionary period, and
around which cluster many patriotic associations, was the College in
Charlotte, known as Queen's Museum. As the early fount of educational
training in Mecklenburg, and the _nursery of freemen_, as well as of
scholars, it should ever claim our warmest regard and veneration. A
brief notice of its origin, progress and termination may be acceptable
to the general reader.

The counties of Mecklenburg, Rowan and other portions of the State,
lying in the track of the southern tide of emigration from more
northern colonies, were principally settled by the Scotch-Irish, who,
inheriting an independence of character and free thought from their
earliest training, soon became the controlling element of society, and
directed its leading religious and political movements. They were not
only the friends of a liberal education, but the early and unflinching
advocates of civil and religious liberty. The "school-master was
abroad in the land," and as duly encouraged as in our own day.
Wherever a preacher was established among them, to proclaim the gospel
of salvation, there, with rare exceptions, soon sprang up into lively
existence a good school, both of a common and classical order.
Prominently among these seminaries of learning may be named Sugar
Creek, Poplar Tent, Center, Bethany, Thyatira, Rocky River, and
Providence, all located in Mecklenburg and Rowan counties. Of all
these, Sugar Creek was probably the oldest. The time of its
commencement is not certainly known.

After the death of the Rev. Alexander Craighead, in 1766, the first
settled pastor of Sugar Creek, the Rev. Joseph Alexander (a nephew of
John McKnitt Alexander) became his successor for a short time,
previous to his removal to Bullock's Creek, S.C., where he ended his
days. Mr. Alexander was a fine scholar, having graduated at Princeton
College, and through his influence, confirmed by that of the
Alexanders and Polks, Waightstill Avery, Dr. Ephraim Brevard and
others, residing in or near Charlotte, vigorous efforts were made to
elevate the Sugar Creek school to the rank and usefulness of a
college; nor were their efforts in vain. The Colonial Legislature
which met at Newbern, in December, 1770, passed an Act entitled "An
Act for founding, establishing and endowing of Queen's College, in the
town of Charlotte." This charter, not suiting the intolerant notions
of royalty, was set aside by the King and council; afterward amended;
a second time granted by the Colonial Legislature, in 1771, and a
second time repealed by royal proclamation.

"And," enquires a writer in the "University Magazine," of North
Carolina, "why was this?" An easy answer is found in the third section
of the act for incorporating the school at Newbern, and afterward
engrafted upon the act incorporating the Edenton Academy (which were
the only two schools incorporated before Queen's College), compared
with the character of the leading men of Mecklenburg, and the fact
that several of the Trustees of the new College were Presbyterian
ministers. No compliments to his queen could render _Whigs_ in
politics, and _Presbyterians_ in religion, acceptable to George III.

A College, under such auspices, was too well calculated to insure the
growth of the "_numerous democracy_."

The section referred to in the charter of the Newbern school, is in
these words:

     "Provided always, that no person shall be permitted to be
     master of said school, but who is of the Established Church
     of England, and who, at the recommendation of the trustees
     or directors, or a majority of them, shall be duly licensed
     by the Governor! or Commander-in-Chief for the time being."

"The Presbyterians," says Lossing, "who were very numerous, resolved
to have a seminary of their own, and applied for an unrestricted
charter for a college. It was granted; but notwithstanding it was
called Queen's College, in compliment to the consort of the King, and
was located in a town called by her name, and in a county of the same
name as her birth-place, the charter was repealed in 1771 by royal
decree. The triple compliment was of no avail."[K]

But Queen's Museum, or College, flourished without a charter for
several years, in spite of the intolerance of the King and Council.
Its hall became the general meeting-place of literary societies and
political clubs preceding the Revolution. The King's fears that the
College would prove to be a fountain of Republicanism, and calculated
to ensure the growth of the "numerous Democracy," were happily, for
the cause of freedom, realized in the characters of its instructors
and pupils. The debates, preceding the adoption of the Mecklenburg
Declaration, were held in its hall, and every reader can judge of the
patriotic sentiments which pervade that famous document. After the
Revolution commenced, the Legislature of North Carolina granted a
charter, in 1777, to this institution, under the name of "Liberty Hall
Academy." The following persons were named as trustees, viz.:    Isaac

Alexander, M.D., president; Thomas Polk, Abraham Alexander, Thomas
Waightstill Avery, Ephraim Brevard, John Simpson, John McKnitt

Alexander, Adlai Osborn, and the Rev. Messrs. David Caldwell, James

Edmonds, Thomas Reese, Samuel E. McCorkle, Thomas H. McCaule and James

The Academy received no funds or endowment from the State, and no
further patronage than this charter. At the time the charter was
obtained the institution was under the care of Dr. Isaac V. Alexander,
who continued to preside until some time in the year 1778. From a
manuscript in the University of North Carolina, drawn up by Adlai
Osborne, one of the trustees, it appears, the first meeting of the
board of trustees was held in Charlotte, on the 3rd day of January,
1778. At this meeting Isaac Alexander, M.D., Ephraim Brevard, M.D.,
and the Rev. Thomas H. McCaule, were appointed a committee to frame a
system of laws for the government of the Academy. They were also
empowered to purchase the lots and improvements belonging to Colonel
Thomas Polk, for which they were to pay him £920. The salary of the
president was fixed at £195, to be occasionally increased, according
to the prices of provisions, then greatly fluctuating in consequence
of the war.

In the month of April, 1778, the system of laws, drawn up by the
committee, was adopted without any material alteration. The course of
studies marked out was similar to that prescribed for the University
of North Carolina, though more limited. Shortly before these
transactions, overtures were made to the Rev. Alexander McWhorter, of
New Jersey, so favorably known to the churches by his missionary visit
in 1764 and 1765, with the Rev. Elihu Spencer; and also by a more
recent visit to the Southern country, to encourage the inhabitants in
the cause of independence, soliciting him to succeed Dr. Alexander in
the presidency of the Academy.

Dr. McWhorter having declined accepting the presidency on account of
the deranged state of his affairs at that time, Mr. Robert Brownfield,
a good scholar, and belonging to a patriotic family of Mecklenburg,
agreed to assume the duties of the office for one year. During the
next year, the invitation to Dr. McWhorter was renewed, and a
committee consisting of the Rev. Samuel E. McCorkle, and Dr. Ephraim
Brevard was sent to New Jersey to wait upon him; and in the event of
his still declining, to consult Dr. Witherspoon and Professor Houston,
of Princeton College (the latter, a distinguished son of old
Mecklenburg,) respecting some other fit person to whom the presidency
should be offered. In compliance with this second invitation, Dr.
McWhorter removed to Charlotte and immediately entered upon the duties
of his office with flattering evidences of success. Many youths from
Mecklenburg and adjoining counties, yet too young to engage in the
battles of their country, and others of older years, whose services
were not imperiously needed on the tented field, flocked to an
institution where a useful and thorough education could be imparted.

But, owing to the invasion of the Carolinas by Cornwallis in the fall
of 1780, the operations of the Academy were suspended and not resumed
during the remainder of the war. After a short service in the
Presidency of the Academy, Dr. McWhorter, to the great regret of the
patrons of learning in the South, returned to New Jersey.

During the occupation of Charlotte by the British army under Lord
Cornwallis, Liberty Hall Academy, which stood upon the lot now owned
by A.B. Davidson, Esq., was used as a hospital, and greatly defaced
and injured. The numerous graves in the rear of the Academy, visible
upon the departure of the British army, after a stay of eighteen days,
bore ample evidence of their great loss in this "rebellious
county"--the "Hornet's Nest" of America.

After the close of the war, Dr. Thomas Henderson, who had been
educated at the Academy, and who frequently represented Mecklenburg in
the Legislature near the beginning of the present century, set up a
High School, and carried it on with great reputation for a number of
years. Classical schools of a high order were numerous after the
Revolutionary war, principally under the direction of Presbyterian
clergymen. These early efforts in the cause of a sound and liberal
education, constantly mingled with patriotic teachings, made a telling
impress upon the Revolutionary period, and greatly assisted in
achieving our independence.



Cabarrus county was formed in 1792, from Mecklenburg county, and was
named in honor of Stephen Cabarrus, a native of France, a man of
active mind, liberal sentiments, and high standing in society. He
entered public life in 1784, and was frequently elected a member from
Chowan county, and, on several occasions, Speaker of the House of

The Colonial and Revolutionary history of Cabarrus is closely
connected with that of Mecklenburg county. No portion of the State was
more fixed and forward in the cause of liberty than this immediate
section. In the Convention at Charlotte, on the 20th of May, 1775,
this part of Mecklenburg was strongly represented, and her delegates
joined heartily in pledging "their lives, their fortunes and most
sacred honor" to maintain and defend their liberty and independence.

The proceedings of that celebrated Convention, its principal actors,
and attendant circumstances, will be found properly noticed under the
head of Mecklenburg County. But there is one bold transaction
connected with the early history of Cabarrus, showing that the germs
of liberty, at and before the battle of Alamance, in 1771, were ready
to burst forth, at any moment, under the warmth of patriotic
excitement, is here deemed worthy of conspicuous record.


Previous to the battle of Alamance, on the 16th of May, 1771, the
first blood shed in the American Revolution, there were many discreet
persons, the advocates of law and order, throughout the province, who
sympathized with the justness of the principles which actuated the
"Regulators," and their stern opposition to official corruption and
extortion, but did not approve of their hasty conduct and occasional
violent proceedings. Accordingly, a short time preceding that
unfortunate conflict, which only smothered for a time the embers of
freedom, difficulties arose between Governor Tryon and the Regulators,
when that royal official, in order to coerce them into his measures of
submission, procured from Charleston, S.C., three wagon loads of the
munitions of war, consisting of powder, flints, blankets, &c. These
articles were brought to Charlotte, but from some suspicions arising
in the minds of the Whigs as to their true destination and use, wagons
could not be hired in the neighborhood for their transportation. At
length, Colonel Moses Alexander, a magistrate under the Colonial
Government, succeeded in getting wagons by _impressment_, to convey
the munitions to Hillsboro, to obey the behests of a tyrannical
governor. The vigilance of the jealous Whigs was ever on the lookout
for the suppression of all such infringements upon the growing spirit
of freedom, then quietly but surely planting itself in the hearts of
the people.

The following individuals, viz.: James, William and John White,
brothers, and William White, a cousin, all born and raised on Rocky
River, and one mile from Rocky River Church, Robert Caruthers, Robert
Davis, Benjamin Cockrane, James and Joshua Hadley, bound themselves by
a most solemn oath not to divulge the secret object of their
contemplated mission, and, in order more effectually to prevent
detection, _blackened their faces_ preparatory to their intended work
of destruction.

They were joined and led in this and other expeditions by William
Alexander, of Sugar Creek congregation, a brave soldier, and afterward
known and distinguished from others bearing the same name as "Captain
Black Bill Alexander," and whose sword now hangs in the Library Hall
of Davidson College, presented in behalf of his descendants by the
late worthy, intelligent and Christian citizen, W. Shakespeare Harris,

These determined spirits set out in the evening, while the father of
the Whites was absent from home with two horses, each carrying a bag
of grain. The White boys were on foot, and wishing to move rapidly
with their comrades, all mounted, in pursuit of the wagons loaded with
the munitions of war, fortunately, for their feet, met their father
returning home with his burdens, and immediately demanded the use of
his horses. The old gentleman, not knowing who they were (_as black as
Satan himself_) pleaded heartily for the horses until he could carry
home his bags of meal; but his petitions were in vain. The boys (_his
sons_) ordered him to dismount, removed the bags from the horses, and
placed them by the side of the road. They then immediately mounted the
disburdened horses, joined their comrades, and in a short space of
time came up with the wagons encamped on "Phifer's Hill," three miles
west of the present town of Concord, on the road leading from
Charlotte to Salisbury. They immediately unloaded the wagons, stove in
the heads of the kegs, threw the powder into a pile, tore the blankets
into strips, made a train of powder a considerable distance from the
pile, and then Major James White fired a pistol into the train, which
produced a tremendous explosion. A stave from the pile struck White on
the forehead, and cut him severely. As soon as this bold exploit
became known to Colonel Moses Alexander, he put his whole ingenuity to
work to find out the perpetrators of so foul a deed against his
Majesty. The transaction remained a mystery for some time. Great
threats were made, and, in order to induce some one to turn traitor, a
pardon was offered to any one who would turn King's evidence against
the rest. Ashmore and Hadley, being half brothers, and composed of the
same rotten materials, set out unknown to each other, to avail
themselves of the offered pardon, and accidently met each other on the
threshold of Moses Alexander's house. When they made known their
business, Alexander remarked, "that, by virtue of the Governor's
proclamation, they were pardoned, but they were the first that ought
to be hanged." The rest of the "Black Boys" had to flee from their
country. They fled to the State of Georgia, where they remained for
some time.

The Governor, finding he could not get them into his grasp, held out
insinuations that if they would return and confess their fault, they
should be pardoned. In a short time, the boys returned from Georgia to
their homes. As soon as it became known to Moses Alexander, he raised
a guard, consisting of himself, his two brothers, John and Jake, and a
few others, and surrounded the house of the old man White, the father
of the boys. Caruthers, the son-in-law of White, happened to be at his
(White's) house at the same time. To make the capture doubly sure,
Alexander placed a guard at each door. One of the guard, wishing to
favor the escape of Caruthers, struck up a quarrel with Moses
Alexander at one door, while his brother, Daniel Alexander, whispered
to Mrs. White, if there were any of them within, they might pass out
and he would not notice it; in the meantime, out goes Caruthers, and
in a few jumps was in the river, which opportunely flowed near the
besieged mansion. The alarm was immediately given, but pursuit was

At another time, the royalists heard of some of the boys being in a
harvest field and set out to take them; but always having some one in
their company to favor their escape, as they rode up in sight of the
reapers, one of them, duly instructed, waved his hand, which the boys
understood as a signal to make their departure. On that occasion they
pursued Robert Dairs so closely that it is said he jumped his horse
thirty feet down a bank into the river, and dared them to follow him.

And thus the "Black Boys" fled from covert to covert to save their
necks from the blood-thirsty loyalists, who were constantly hunting
them like wild beasts. They would lie concealed for weeks at a time,
and the neighbors would carry them food until they fairly wearied out
their pursuers. The oath by which they bound themselves was an
imprecation of the strongest kind, and the greater part of the
imprecation was literally fulfilled in the sad ends of Hadley and
Ashmore. The latter fled from his country, but he lived a miserable
life, and died as wretchedly as he had lived. Hadley still remained in
the country, and was known for many years to the people of Rocky
River. He was very intemperate, and in his fits of intoxication was
very harsh to his family in driving them from his house in the dead
hours of the night. His neighbors, in order to chastise him for the
abuse of his family, (among whom were some of the "Black Boys"),
dressed themselves in female attire, went to his house by night,
pulled him from his bed, drew his shirt over his head and gave him a
severe whipping. The castigation, it is said, greatly improved the
future treatment of his family. He continued, however, through life,
the same miserable wretch, and died without any friendly hand to
sustain him or eye to pity his deplorable end.

Frequently, when the royalists ranged the country in pursuit of the
"Black Boys," the Whigs would collect in bodies consisting of
twenty-five or thirty men, ready to pounce upon the pursuers, if they
had captured any of the boys. From the allurements held out to the
Boys to give themselves up, they went, at one time, nearly to
Hillsboro to beg the pardon of the Governor, (Tryon), but finding out
it was his intention, if he could get them into his hands, to have
hanged every one of them, they returned, and kept themselves concealed
until patriotic sentiment grew so rapidly from that time (1771) to the
Mecklenburg Declaration, (20th of May, 1775), that concealment was no
longer necessary. When the drama of the Revolution opened, these same
"Black Boys" stood up manfully for the cause of American freedom, and
nobly assisted in achieving, on many a hard-fought battlefield, the
independence of our country.


Dr. Charles Harris was born in the eastern part of Mecklenburg county,
(now Cabarrus), on the 23rd of November, 1762. He was distinguished as
a patriot, a soldier and a physician. While pursuing his studies in
Charlotte, the invasion of the town by the British army, under Lord
Cornwallis, caused him to exchange the gown for the sword.
Accordingly, when a call was made for troops to resist and hold in
check the invaders of his country, he joined the corps of cavalry
under Col. William R. Davie, and was with that brave and chivalric
officer in much of his daring career.

After the war was ended he resumed his studies at Clio Academy, in
Iredell county, (then a part of Rowan) under the control of the Rev.
James Hall. Soon after this classical preparation he commenced the
study of medicine under Dr. Isaac Alexander, at Camden, S.C. and
graduated at Philadelphia. On his return home, he settled in
Salisbury, and practiced there for some length of time with
encouraging success. He then removed to Favoni, his family seat in
Cabarrus county, where he ended his days.

Devoted to his profession he soon became unrivaled as a physician and
surgeon. In a short time his reputation was widely extended over the
surrounding country, and his skill and success justified this
celebrity. He kept up for many years, a medical school, and instructed
_ninety-three_ young men in the healing art. In his day and
generation, good physicians and surgeons (especially the latter) were
remarkably scarce--something like angels' visits, "few and far
between." He was frequently called upon to perform surgical operations
from fifty to one hundred miles from home.

He possessed a cheerful temper, and suavity of manner which gained for
him a ready admittance into the confidence and cordial friendship of
all classes of society. But, before he had reached his "three-score
years and ten," the infirmities of old age were rapidly stealing upon
him, and admonishing him of his early departure from the scenes of
earth. He died on the 21st of September, 1825, leaving several
children. One of his sons, the late William Shakspeare Harris, Esq.,
widely known as a worthy and intelligent citizen, represented Cabarrus
county in the House of Commons in 1836. Another son, Charles J.
Harris, Esq., resides at present about one mile from Poplar Tent
Church, and is a gentleman of great moral worth and Christian

On the tombstone of Dr. Harris is the following inscription:

     "This monument is erected to perpetuate the memory of
     Charles Harris, M.D., born 23rd of November, 1762; died 21st
     of September, 1825, aged sixty-three years. Dr. Harris was
     engaged in the practice of medicine and surgery for forty
     years; eminent in the former, in the latter pre-eminent. He
     was a man of extensive reading, of an acute, inquisitive
     mind, friendly to all, and beloved by all. His heart entered
     deeply into the sufferings of his patients, mingling the
     medicine he administered with the feelings of a friend. He
     lived usefully, and died resignedly; and we humbly trust,
     through the sovereign virtue of the all-healing medicine of
     the Great Physician, he was prepared to rest in this tomb,
     'where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at

Dr. Charles Harris was one of five brothers who emigrated from
Pennsylvania to North Carolina, viz: Robert, James, Richard, Thomas,
and Charles, the subject of this sketch. His father married the widow
Baker, a daughter of the Rev. John Thompson, who is buried in Baker's
Graveyard, five Miles east of Beattie's Ford, in Iredell county.


Capt. Thomas Caldwell, of Irish parentage, was born in the eastern
part of Mecklenburg county, (now Cabarrus), in 1753. He early espoused
the cause of liberty, and entered the service in 1775, in Capt. John
Springs' company as a private, and marched to the protection of the
frontier settlements from the murderous and plundering incursions of
the Cherokee Indians.

He again joined the service in Capt. Ezekiel Polk's company and
marched against the Tories in South Carolina, near the post of
Ninety-Six. In 1776, he volunteered under Captain William Alexander,
Colonels Adam Alexander and Robert Irwin, General Rutherford
commanding; marched to the Quaker Meadows, at the head of the Catawba
River, and thence to the Cherokee country, beyond the mountains. After
severely chastising the Indians, killing a few, and laying waste their
country, causing them to sue for peace, the expedition returned.

In 1870, he was appointed Captain by General Thomas Polk to assist in
opposing the advance of Lord Cornwallis.

After Cornwallis left Charlotte, in October, 1780, he raised a
company, placed himself under Colonel Williams, of South Carolina, and
fought under him and Colonel Lee, at Pyles' defeat, on Haw River. He
also acted for some time as Quartermaster, at the Hospital, in

In 1781 he volunteered under Colonel Davie, and was with him at the
battle of Hanging Rock.

This was Captain Caldwell's last important service.

The distinguished physician, Dr. Charles Caldwell, also of Irish
parentage, and nearly related to Captain Thomas Caldwell, was born in
the immediate vicinity of Poplar Tent Church, in Cabarrus county, on
land now owned by Colonel Thomas H. Robinson, a worthy son of Dr. John
Robinson, D.D., who so long and faithfully proclaimed the gospel of
salvation to this congregation. No vestige of the family mansion now
remains, but its site is easily recognized at the present time by a
large fig bush, growing at or near where the chimney formerly stood,
as a lingering memento of the past, and producing annually its
delicious fruit.

Although this eminent physician, in his ardent pursuit of material
Philosophy, wandered for many years "after strange gods," until much
learning made him mad; yet, it is pleasing to know, in his maturer
age, and under calm reflection, the early gospel precepts so
impressingly instilled into his youthful mind by his pious parents,
yielded at length their happiest results, and that he died at the
Medical College of Louisville, in Kentucky, in 1853, full of years and
of honors, and in the faith of his fathers, many of whom sleep in the
graveyard of Poplar Tent Church.



Rowan county was formed in 1753 from Anson county. In 1770 Surry, and
in 1777 Burke counties were severally taken off, previous to which
separations Anson county comprehended most of the western portion of
North Carolina and Tennessee. Like a venerable mother, Rowan beholds
with parental complacency and delight her prosperous children
comfortably settled around her. Salisbury, her capital, derives its
name from a handsome town in England, situated on the banks of the
classic Avon, and near the noted Salisbury Plain, a dry, _chalky
surface_, which accounts for the origin of its Saxon name, which means
a _dry town_.

Rowan was first settled by Protestants, about 1720-25, from Moravia,
fleeing from the persecutions of Ferdinand, the Second, by the Scotch,
after the unsuccessful attempts of Charles Edward (commonly called the
"Pretender") to ascend the English throne, and by the Irish, after the
rebellion of the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell, who were offered
their pardon on condition of their emigrating to America and in
assisting to colonize the English possessions there. The staid
prudence of the German, the keen sagacity of the Scotch, and fiery
ardor of the Irish commingled on American soil, and were fit materials
to form the elemental foundations of an _industrious, progressive_ and
_independent_ nation.

The early history of Rowan, and of her distinguished sons, affords of
itself ample materials to fill an instructive volume. Within her
borders resided such venerable patriots as Matthew Locke, Moses
Winslow, Griffith Rutherford, John Brevard, William Sharpe, Samuel
Young, William Kennon, Adlai Osborne, Francis McCorkle, James Brandon,
James McCay, and many others, all true and constant friends of
liberty; but alas! how little of their eminent services has been
preserved. Even yet, it is believed, some one of her gifted sons might
do much in collecting from traditional sources, and from her musty
records a rich store of historical facts, hitherto unwritten,
illustrative of the fair name and fame of her Revolutionary career.

In the struggles of the Regulators against the extortions of Governor
Tryon and the crown officers, the spirit of the people of Rowan was
plainly manifested. In March, 1770, Maurice Moore, one of the Colonial
Judges, attended Salisbury to hold the Superior Court. He reported to
Governor Tryon at Newbern that "from the opposition of the people to
the taxes, no process of the law could be executed among them."

Upon this information Governor Tryon repaired in person to Salisbury.
In his original journal, procured from the archives of the State Paper
office in London by the Honorable George Bancroft, late our envoy at
that Court, we can see his actions, and admire the spirit of a Captain
Knox, who refused to join him with his troops. Violent as were the
acts of the Regulators, the subsequent oppressive measures of the
crown officers justified their conduct. The Clerk of Rowan county
(Thomas Frohock) was allowed to charge _fifteen dollars_ for a
marriage license. The effect of this official extortion was such as to
constrain some of the inhabitants on the head-waters of the Yadkin
river to "_take a short cut_," as it was termed in uniting their
conjugal ties for "better or for worse," as man and wife.

The indignation of the people of Rowan, Guilford, Orange, and other
counties, was aroused against such official misconduct. On the 7th of
March, 1771, a public meeting was held in Salisbury, when a large and
influential committee was appointed, who, armed with the authority of
the people, met the clerk, sheriff, and other officers of the crown,
and compelled them to disgorge their unlawful extortions. By a writing
signed by these officers, they agreed to settle and pay back all
moneys received over and above, their lawful fees.

This was indemnity for the past. The security for the future was, that
when any doubt should arise as to fees, they should not be paid to the
officers themselves, but to such other persons as were appointed by
the people.

Matthew Locke and Herman Husbands were among those selected to receive
these lawful fees. An instance, says Wheeler, "of more determined
resistance, or of purer democracy, is not to be found in the annals of
any people."

Most of the histories of the day have done the Regulators great
injustice, and denounced this whole body of men as composed of a
factious and turbulent mob, who, without proper cause, disturbed the
public tranquility. Nothing could be more untrue or unjust. Their
assemblages were orderly, and some evidence of the temper and
characters of the principal actors may be gathered from the fact that
from these meetings, by a law of their own, they vigorously excluded
all intoxicating drinks. But they had been oppressed and exasperated
by the impositions of corrupt officers until forbearance, with them,
had ceased to be a a virtue. On their side was the spirit of liberty,
animating the discordant multitude, but, unfortunately, without
trained leaders, or a sufficiency of arms, going forth to make its
first essay at battle on American soil. Redress of grievances was
sought at first by the Regulators in a quiet way, by resorting to the
courts of law. The officers were indicted and found guilty, but the
punishment was the mere nominal one of "a penny and costs." In short,
all resorts to the tribunals of justice ended in a perfect mockery,
and hastened the "War of the Regulation" in North Carolina.

The public press of that day was used by the Regulators in a peaceable
way to set forth their grievances. Their productions, circulated in
manuscript, or in print, display no proofs of high scholarship, or of
polished writing, but there is a truthful earnestness in some of them,
and cogency of reasoning more effective than the skill of the mere
rhetorician. Sometimes they appeared in ballad form, and sometimes as
simple narrative. The rough poet of the period (the American
Revolution can boast of many) was Rednap Howell, who taught the very
children to sing, in doggerel verse, the infamy of the proud officials
who were trampling on their rights. A short selection from the many
similar ones will be here presented for the amusement of the reader.

     "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 wasn't worth a cross,
     And then my first study was stealing 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 one eye;
     Five shillings in money I had in my purse,
     My coat was all patched, but not much the worse;
     But _now_ we've got rich, and its very well known.
     That we'll do very well, _if they'll let us alone_."

The truthful sentiment conveyed in the last line will find many fit
illustrations in our own times.

The power of the Royal government was called into requisition to put
down this "Regulation" movement. The military spirit of Tryon resolved
to appeal to the sword. On the 24th of April, 1771, he left Newbern at
the head of three hundred men, a small train of artillery, and with a
considerable number of his adherents. General Waddell was sent forward
to Salisbury to raise troops, munitions of war having been previously
ordered from Charleston. While he was in Salisbury waiting for the
arrival of this supply of warlike munitions, the "Black Boys" of what
is now Cabarrus county, under the lead of "Black Bill Alexander,"
seized the convoy of wagons, and completely destroyed the "King's
powder," well knowing it was intended to obey the behest of a
tyrannical Governor. When Waddell advanced his troops from Salisbury
to join Tryon, the bold sons of Rowan rose in arms and ordered him
back. On the 10th of May, 1771, at Potts' Creek, he held a council of
his officers, and they, believing "prudence to be the better part of
valor," fell back, and recrossed the Yadkin. Waddell soon found that
many of his own men sympathised with the cause of the Regulators. He
promptly sent a message to Tryon, then encamped on Eno, informing him
of his critical situation. Tryon hastened on with his forces, crossed
Haw river on the 13th of May, and, on the next evening, pitched his
camp on the bank of the Alamance. On the 16th of May, 1771, the
unfortunate battle of Alamance was fought in which was shed the _first
blood_ of the American Revolution. After that disastrous event, in
which, for want of skilful leaders, and concert among their men, the
Regulators were subdued, the bloody "Wolf of North Carolina," as Tryon
was called by the Cherokee Indians, advanced in all "the pomp and
circumstance" of official station, and joined Waddell on the 4th of
June, near Salisbury, about eight miles east of the Yadkin river. He
then marched by a circuitous route to Hillsboro, where he had court
held to try the Regulators, by his pliant tool, Judge Howard. On the
20th he left Hillsboro, and reached Newbern on the 24th; and on the
30th left North Carolina for the colony of New York, over which he had
just been appointed Governor. Thus was our State rid of one who had
acted the part of an oppressive ruler and a blood-thirsty tyrant.

The efforts of Tryon had been too successful in enlisting under his
banners, before the designs of the British government were openly
discovered, many of the bravest and best officers of his day. Caswell,
Ashe, Waddell, Rutherford, and other distinguished persons who gave in
their adhesion to Governor Tryon in 1771, only three years later, at
the first Provincial Congress, directly from the people, held at
Newbern on the 25th of August, 1774, were found to be true patriots,
when it became apparent the entire subjugation of the country was the
object of the British crown. To the first assemblage of patriots,
adverse to the oppressions of the British government, held at Newbern
in August, 1774, the delegates from Rowan were William Kennon, Moses
Winslow and Samuel Young.

To the same place, in April, 1775, the delegates were Griffith
Rutherford, William Sharpe and William Kennon.

To Hillsboro, on the 21st of August, 1775, the delegates were Matthew
Locke, William Sharpe, Moses Winslow, William Kennon, Samuel Young and
James Smith. This Provincial Congress appointed as Field Officers and
Minute Men, for Salisbury District, Thomas Wade, of Anson, Colonel;
Adlai Osborne, of Rowan, Lieutenant Colonel; Joseph Harben, Major.

To Halifax, on the 22d of April, 1776, Rowan sent Rutherford Griffith
and Matthew Locke as delegates.

At this assembly Griffith Rutherford was appointed Brigadier General
of the Salisbury District; Francis Locke, Colonel of Rowan; Alexander
Dobbins, Lieutenant Colonel; James Brandon, 1st Major; James Smith, 2d

To the Congress at Halifax, November 12th, 1776, which formed the
first Constitution, the delegates were Griffith Rutherford, Matthew
Locke, William Sharpe, James Smith and John Brevard.

In 1775 the Royal government ceased in North Carolina by the retreat
of Governor Martin.

The Civil Government, vested in: 1. A Provincial Council for the whole
State, composed of two members from each Judicial District, and one
for the State at large, who was chairman and _de facto_ Governor. 2.
Committees of Safety for the towns; and 3. County Committees of
Safety, a part of whose duty it was to arrest suspicious persons, and
take especial care that the public interest suffered no detriment.

The journal of the Committee of Safety for Rowan county, from the 8th
of August, 1774, to the 17th of May, 1776, has been preserved, and
throws much light on the patriotic transactions of that exciting
period in our Revolutionary history. The journal in full may be seen
in Wheeler's "Historical Sketches."


After Cornwallis effected his passage over the Catawba river, at
Cowan's Ford, on the 1st of February, 1781, he only remained about
three hours in attending to the burial of his dead. Tarleton was
dispatched in advance to pursue the Whigs retreating in the direction
of Torrence's Tavern. Early in the morning of the same day a
simultaneous movement was made by Colonel Webster, with his own
brigade, the artillery, and a small supporting detachment to Beattie's
Ford, six miles above Cowan's Ford, where a small guard had been
placed on the eastern bank. Colonel Webster, with a view of dispersing
the guard, fired several shots (six pounders) across the river, which
had its intended effect, and thus enabled him to pass over without
meeting with serious opposition. This was a mere feint, intended to
create the impression that the whole British army would cross there.

The two British forces pressing forward with as little delay as
possible, united at Torrence's, ten miles from Cowan's Ford, where a
considerable body of the Whig militia had hastily assembled; but
having no one to assume command, and greatly discouraged by the death
of General Davidson on the approach of Tarleton's cavalry, poured in
one effective fire, killed seven of the British horsemen, wounded
others, and then dispersed in all directions with a small loss. This
skirmish, occurring soon after Tarleton's defeat at the Cowpens, led
him to boast of it in his journal as a brilliant victory!

Lord Cornwallis, in his general orders on the 2d of February, returns
his "thanks to the Brigade of Guards for their cool and determined
bravery in the passage of the Catawba, while rushing through that long
and difficult ford under a galling fire."

Another order, issued from his camp on the evening of the preceding
day, does credit to his head as well as his heart, and shows that he
was sometimes governed by the noble principles of moral rectitude. The
order is in the following words:


     "Lord Cornwallis is highly displeased that several houses
     were set on fire during the march this day--a disgrace to
     the army. He will punish, with the utmost severity, any
     person or persons who shall be found guilty of committing so
     disgraceful an outrage. His Lordship requests the commanding
     officers of corps to find out the persons who set fire to
     the houses this day."

It is presumable his Lordship never received the desired information.
The order, no doubt, has reference to the burning of the houses of
John Brevard, who had "seven sons at one time in the rebel army," and
of Adam Torrence, a staunch Whig, where the skirmish had taken place.

General Greene, having been apprised of the battle of the Cowpens, and
the result, on the same day when Cornwallis commenced his pursuit of
General Morgan, ordered General Stevens to march with his Virginia
militia (whose term of service was almost expired) by way of
Charlotte, N.C., to take charge of Morgan's prisoners, and conduct
them to Charlottesville, in Virginia.

General Greene being anxious to confer with Morgan, personally, left
his camp on the Pee Dee, under the command of General Huger and
Colonel O.H. Williams, and started with one aid, and two or three
mounted militia, for the Catawba. On the route, he was informed of
Cornwallis' pursuit. General Morgan had previously crossed the Catawba
at the Island Ford. On the 31st of January, General Greene reached
Sherrill's Ford, a few miles below the Island Ford, where he had an
interview with Morgan, and directed his future movements.

The British army readied Salisbury on that night, and on the next
morning started in pursuit of Green and Morgan. These officers did not
await the dawn, but crossed the Yadkin river at the Trading Ford, six
miles beyond Salisbury, while his Lordship was quietly slumbering, and
dreaming, perhaps, of future conquest and glory! When Cornwallis awoke
on the morning of the third, he hastened to strike a fatal blow on the
banks of the Yadkin, but the Americans were beyond his reach, and
Providence had again placed an impassable barrier of water between
them. Copious rains in the mountains had swollen the Yadkin to a
mighty river. The horses of Morgan had forded the stream at midnight,
and the infantry passed over in boats at dawn. These vessels were
fastened on the eastern shore of the Yadkin, and Cornwallis was
obliged to wait for the waters to subside before he could attempt to
cross. Again he had the Americans _almost within his grasp_. A corps
of riflemen were yet on the Western side when O'Hara, with the
vanguard of the British army, approached, but these escaped across the
river, after a slight skirmish. Nothing was lost but a few wagons
belonging to Whig families, who, with their effects, were fleeing with
the American army.

Lord Cornwallis, after an ineffectual cannonade over the river,
returned to Salisbury, and, on the 7th, marched up the western bank of
the Yadkin, and crossed at the Shallow Ford, near the village of

Dr. Read, the surgeon of the American army, has left this record of
the cannonading scene:

     "At a little distance from the river was a small cabin, in
     which General Greene had taken up his quarters. At this
     building the enemy directed their fire, and the balls
     rebounded from the rocks in the rear of it. But little of
     the roof was visible to the enemy. The General was preparing
     his orders for the army, and his dispatches to the Congress.
     In a short time the balls began to strike the roof, and
     clapboards were flying in all directions. But the General's
     pen never stopped, only when a new visitor arrived, or some
     officer for orders; and then the answer was given with
     calmness and precision, and Greene resumed his pen."

It is related as a truthful tradition that, after the British army
reached Salisbury, Lord Cornwallis, Tarleton, and other royal
officers, were hospitably entertained by Dr. Anthony Newman, although
he was a true Whig. There, in presence of Tarleton, and other
spectators, Dr. Newman's two little sons were engaged in playing the
game of the "battle of the Cowpens," with grains of corn; red grains
representing the British officers, and white grains the Americans.

Washington and Tarleton were particularly represented, and as one
pursued the other, as in a real battle, the little fellows shouted,
"Hurrah for Washington, Tarleton runs! Hurrah for Washington." Colonel
William A. Washington, it will be recollected, commanded the American
cavalry. Tarleton looked on for a while, but soon becoming irritated
at the playful but truthful scene, he exclaimed: "See these cursed
little rebels!"

The pursuit of Morgan by Cornwallis was the most exciting and
prolonged military chase of the American Revolution. Under various
tangible interpositions of Providence, the retreat, as we have seen,
proved finally successful, and Morgan's forces saved for the future
service of his country.


General Griffith Rutherford was an Irishman by birth, brave and
patriotic, but uncultivated in mind and manners. He resided west of
Salisbury, in the Locke settlement, and actively participated in the
internal government of the county, associated with such early and
distinguished patriots as Moses Winslow, Alexander Osborn, Samuel
Young, John Brevard, James Brandon, William Sharpe, Francis McCorkle,
and others. He represented Rowan county in the Provincial Congress
which met at Halifax on the 4th of April, 1776, and during this
session he received the appointment of Brigadier General of the
"Salisbury District." Near the close of the summer of 1776, he raised
and commanded an army of two thousand four hundred men against the
Cherokee Indians. After being reinforced by the Guilford Regiment,
under Colonel James Martin, and by the Surry Regiment under Colonel
Martin Armstrong, at Fort McGahey, General Rutherford crossed the
"Blue Ridge," or Alleghany mountains, at Swannanoa Gap, near the
western base of which the beautiful Swannanoa river ("nymph of
beauty") takes its rise. After reaching the French Broad he passed
down and over that stream at a crossing-place which to this day bears
the name of the "War Ford." He then passed up the valley of "Hominy
Creek," leaving Pisgah Mountain on the left, and crossed Pigeon River
a little below the mouth of East Fork. He then passed through the
mountains to Richland Creek, above the present town of Waynesville;
ascended the creek and crossed the Tuckasege River at an Indian town.
Pursuing his course, he crossed the Cowee Mountain, where he had a
small engagement with the enemy, in which one of his men was wounded.
As the Indians carried off their dead and wounded, their loss could
not be ascertained. Thence he marched to the "Middle Towns," on the
Tennessee river, where, on the 14th of September, he met General
Williamson with troops from South Carolina on the same mission of
subduing the Indians.

In skirmishes at Valley Town, Ellajay, and near Franklin, General
Rutherford lost three men, but he completely subdued the Indians. He
then returned home by the same route, since known as "Rutherford's
Trace." The Rev. James Hall, of Iredell county, accompanied this
expedition as chaplain.

The uniforms of the officers and men was a hunting-shirt of domestic,
trimmed with cotton: their arms were rifles, and _none knew better how
to use them_. Many of the hardy sons of the west there experienced
their first essay in arms, and their bravery was nobly maintained
afterwards at King's Mountain, the Cowpens, and elsewhere in the

General Rutherford commanded a brigade in the battle of Camden, (16th
of August, 1780), and was there made a prisoner. After he was
exchanged he again took the field, and commanded the expedition which
marched by way of Cross Creek (now Fayetteville) to Wilmington, when
that place, on his approach, was evacuated by the British, near the
close of the war.

He frequently represented Rowan county in the Senate during and
subsequent to the war, showing the high appreciation in which his
services were held by the people. Shortly after his last service in
1786, he joined the strong tide of emigration to Tennessee, where his
well-earned fame and experience in governmental matters had preceded
him. The Knoxville _Gazette_ of the 6th of September, 1794, contains
the following announcement:

     "On Monday last the General Assembly of this territory
     commenced their session in this town. General Rutherford
     long distinguished for his services in the Legislature of
     North Carolina, is appointed President of the Legislative

General Rutherford died in Tennessee near the beginning of the present
century, at a good old age, and it is to be regretted more has not
been preserved of his life and services.


Matthew Locke, one of the first settlers of Rowan county, and the
patriarchal head of a large family, was born in 1730. He was an early
and devoted friend of liberty and the rights of the people. His
stability of character and maturity of judgment caused him to be held
in high esteem in all controversial matters among his fellow citizens.
In 1771, during the "Regulation" troubles, he was selected by the
people, with Herman Husbands, to receive the lawful fees of the
sheriffs, and other crown officers, whose exorbitant exactions and
oppressive conduct were then everywhere disturbing the peace and
welfare of society. In 1775, he was a member of the Colonial Assembly,
and in 1776 member of the Provincial Congress, which met on the 12th
of November of that year, and formed the first Constitution. From 1793
to 1799 he was a member of Congress, and was succeeded by the Hon.
Archibald Henderson. He married a daughter of Richard Brandon, an
early patriot of the same county. He died in 1801, aged seventy-one

Matthew Locke had at one time four sons in the Revolutionary war.
Francis Locke, his eldest son, was appointed by the Provincial
Congress which met at Halifax on the 4th of April, 1776, Colonel of
the 1st Rowan Regiment, with Alexander Dobbins as Lieutenant Colonel;
James Brandon, 1st Major, and James Smith, 2d Major. He was attached
to General Lincoln's army when General Ashe was defeated at Brier
Creek, and composed one of the members of the court-martial to inquire
into that unfortunate affair. Colonel Locke commanded the forces which
attacked and signally defeated a large body of Tories assembled at
Ramsour's Mill, under Col. John Moore. (For particulars, see "Lincoln
county"). Another son, Lieutenant George Locke, a brave young officer,
was killed by the British in the skirmish near Charlotte, in
September, 1780.

Hon. Francis Locke, son of Francis Locke, the "hero of Ramsour's
Mill," was born on the 31st of October, 1766. He was elected Judge of
the Superior Court in 1803, and resigned in 1814, at which time he was
elected a Senator in Congress in 1814-'15. He never married, and died
in January, 1823, in the forty-fourth year of his age. His mortal
remains, with those of his father, Colonel Francis Locke, repose in
the graveyard of Thyatira Church, Rowan county, N.C.


(Condensed from Wheeler's "Historical Sketches.")

Hon. Archibald Henderson was born in Granville county, N.C., on the
7th of August, 1768; studied law with Judge Williams, his relative,
and was pronounced by the late Judge Murphy, who knew him long and
well, to be "the most perfect model of a lawyer that our bar has
produced." ... No man could look upon him without pronouncing him one
of the great men of the age. The impress of greatness was upon his
countenance; not that greatness which is the offspring of any single
talent or moral quality, but a greatness which is made up by blending
the faculties of a fine intellect with exalted moral feelings.
Although he was at all times accessible and entirely free from
austerity, he seemed to live and move in an atmosphere of dignity. He
exacted nothing by his manner, yet all approached him with reverence
and left him with respect. His was the region of high sentiment; and
here he occupied a standing that was pre-eminent in North Carolina. He
contributed more than any man, since the time of General Davie and
Alfred Moore, to give character to the bar of the State. His career at
the bar has become identified with the history of North Carolina: and
his life and his example furnish themes for instruction to gentlemen
of the bench and to his brethren of the bar. May they study his life
and profit by his example!

He represented his district in Congress from 1799 to 1803, and the
town of Salisbury frequently in the State Legislature. He married
Sarah, daughter of William Alexander, and sister of William Alexander
and Nathaniel Alexander, afterward Governor of the State. He left two
children, the late Archibald Henderson, Esq., of Salisbury, and Mrs.
Boyden, wife of the late Hon. Nathaniel Boyden.

He died on the 21st of October, 1822, in the fifty-fourth year of his


(Condensed from Wheeler's "Historical Sketches.")

Richmond Pearson, late of Davie county when a part of Rowan, was born
in Dinwiddie county, Va., in 1770, and at the age of nineteen years
came to North Carolina and settled in the forks of the Yadkin river.

When the war of the Revolution broke out he was a Lieutenant in
Captain Bryan's company (afterward the celebrated Colonel Bryan, of
Tory memory). After the Declaration of Independence, at the first
muster which occurred, he requested some on whom he could rely to load
their guns. When Captain Bryan came on the ground he ordered all the
men into ranks. Pearson refused, and tendered his commission to Bryan,
whereupon he ordered him under arrest. This was resisted, and he was
told that the men had their guns loaded. They then came to a parley,
and it was agreed by the crowd, as matters stood, that Bryan and
Pearson, on a fixed day, should settle this national affair by a fair
_fist fight_, and whichever whipped, the company should belong to the
side of the conqueror, whether Whig or Tory. At the appointed time and
place the parties met, and the Lieutenant proved to be the victor.
From this time the Fork company was for liberty, and Bryan's crowd, on
Dutchman's creek, were Loyalists. The anecdote illustrates by what
slight circumstances events of this period were affected. When
Cornwallis came south, Pearson, with his company, endeavored to harass
his advance. He was present at Cowan's Ford on the 1st of February,
1781, where General Davidson fell in attempting to resist the passage
of the British. Captain Pearson was a successful merchant and an
enterprising planter. He died in 1819, leaving three sons and one
daughter: 1st, Jesse A.; 2d, Joseph; 3d, Richmond; and 4th, Elizabeth
Pearson. Jesse A. Pearson was frequently a member of the General
Assembly from Rowan county. In 1814 he marched as Colonel of a
Regiment to the Creek Nation, under General Joseph Graham, and was
afterward elected Major General of the State Militia. He died in 1823,
without issue.

Hon. Joseph Pearson was a member of the General Assembly in the House
of Commons from Rowan county in 1804 and 1805, and a member of
Congress from 1809 to 1815. He died at Salisbury on the 27th of
October, 1834. He was thrice married. By his first wife, Miss McLinn,
he had no issue; by the second, Miss Ellen Brent, he had two
daughters--one, the wife of Robert Walsh, Esqr., of Philadelphia--the
other, the wife of Lieutenant Farley, of the U.S. Navy; and by the
third wife (Miss Worthington, of Georgetown), he left four children.

Richmond Pearson married Miss McLinn. He was never in public life, but
was an active, enterprising man. He left the following children: 1st,
Sarah, who married Isaac Croom, of Alabama; 2d. Eliza, who married
W.G. Bently, of Bladen county, N.C.; 3d. Charles, who died without
issue; 4th. Hon. Richmond M. Pearson was born in June, 1805, educated
at Statesville by John Mushat, and graduated at Chapel Hill in 1823.
He studied law under Judge Henderson, and was licensed in 1826. He
entered public life in 1829 as a member to the State Legislature from
Rowan county, and continued as such until 1832. In 1836 he was elected
one of the Judges of the Superior Court, and in 1848 was transferred
to the Supreme Court, which elevated position he now occupies; 5th.
Giles N. Pearson married Miss Ellis, and was a lawyer by profession.
He died in 1847, leaving a wife and five children; 6th. John Stokes
Pearson married Miss Beattie, of Bladen county. He died in 1848,
leaving four children.

The reader may be curious to know something of the fate of Colonel
Samuel Bryan, who commanded the Tory regiment in the forks of the
Yadkin, which was so roughly handled and cut to pieces by Colonel
Davie and his brave associates, at the battle of the hanging Rock.

About the time Major Craig evacuated Wilmington in 1781, Colonel
Bryan, Lieutenant Colonel John Hampton and Captain Nicholas White, of
the same regiment, returned to the forks of the Yadkin, were arrested
and tried for high treason, under the act of 1777, entitled "An Act
for declaring what Crimes and Practices against the State shall be
Treason," &c.

Judges Spencer and Williams presided. The prosecution was ably
conducted by the Attorney General, Alfred Moore, and the defence by
Richard Henderson, John Penn, John Kinchen and William R. Davie, truly
a fine array of legal talent.

Public indignation was so greatly excited that Governor Burke found it
necessary, after the trial, to protect the prisoners from violence by
a military guard.

Colonel Davie's defence of Colonel Bryan, in the argument made to the
jury upon the occasion, was said to have been a brilliant exhibition
of his forensic ability. For many years afterwards his services were
required in all capital cases, and as a criminal lawyer he had no
rival in the State. They were all convicted, had sentence of death
passed upon them, were pardoned, and subsequently exchanged for
officers of equal rank, who were at the time, confined within the
British lines.


The long, arduous and eventful retreat of General Morgan through the
Carolinas, after the battle of the Cowpens, and the eager pursuit of
Cornwallis to overtake him, encumbered with more than five hundred
prisoners, on his way to a place of safety in Virginia, affords many
interesting incidents. General Greene having met Morgan on the eastern
banks of the Catawba river, at Sherrill's Ford, and directed his
forward movements, proceeded to Salisbury, a little in advance of his
forces. It had been slightly raining during the day, and his wet
garments, appearance of exhaustion and dejection of spirits at the
loss of General Davidson at Cowan's Ford, as he dismounted at the door
of the principal hotel in Salisbury, indicated too clearly that he was
suffering under harassing anxiety of mind. Dr. Reed, who had charge of
the sick and wounded prisoners, while he waited for the General's
arrival, was engaged in writing the necessary paroles for such
officers as could not go on. General Greene's aids having been
dispatched to different parts of the retreating army, he was alone
when he rode up to the hotel. Dr. Reed, noticing his dispirited looks,
remarked that he appeared to be fatigued; to which the wearied officer
replied: "Yes, fatigued, hungry, alone, and penniless!" General Greene
had hardly taken his seat at the well-spread table, when Mrs. Steele,
the landlady of the hotel, entered the room and carefully shut the
door behind her. Approaching her distinguished guest, she reminded him
of the despondent words he had uttered in her hearing, implying, as
she thought, a distrust of the devotion of his friends to the cause of
freedom. She declared money he should have, and immediately drew from
under her apron two small bags full of specie, probably the earnings
of several years, "Take these, General," said she, "you need them and
I can do without them." This offering of a benevolent heart,
accompanied with words of kindness and encouragement, General Greene
accepted with thankfulness. "Never," says his biographer, "did relief
come at a more propitious moment; nor would it be straining conjecture
to suppose that he resumed his journey with his spirits cheered and
lightened by this touching proof of woman's devotion to the cause of
her country."

General Greene did not remain long in Salisbury; but before his
departure from the house of Mrs. Steele, he left a memorial of his
visit. Seeing a picture of George III. hanging against the wall, sent
as a present to a connection of Mrs. Steele from England, he took it
down and wrote with chalk on the back, "O George, hide thy face, and
mourn," and replaced it with the face to the wall. The picture, with
the writing uneffaced, is still in possession of a grand daughter.
Mrs. Steele was twice married; her first husband was a Gillespie, by
whom she had a daughter, Margaret, who married the Rev. Samuel E.
McCorkle, a distinguished Presbyterian minister; and Richard
Gillespie, who was a Captain in the Revolution, and died unmarried. By
her second husband, William Steele, she had only one child, the Hon.
John Steele, who died in Salisbury on the 14th of August, 1815. He was
a conspicuous actor in the councils of the State and Nation, and one
whose services offer materials for an interesting and instructive

Mrs. Steele died in Salisbury on the 22d of November, 1790. She was
distinguished not only for her strong attachment to the cause of
freedom, but for the piety which shone forth brightly in her
pilgrimage upon earth. Among her papers was found, after her death, a
written dedication of herself to her Creator, and a prayer for support
in the practice of christian duty; with a letter, left as a legacy to
her children, enjoining it upon them to make religion the great work
of life.



Iredell county was formed in 1788 from Rowan county, and named in
honor of James Iredell, one of the Associate Judges of the Supreme
Court of the United States.

At the time of the war of the Revolution the county of Rowan embraced
all that beautiful and agricultural region extending from the foot of
the Blue Ridge Mountains, eastwardly, to where the Yadkin river loses
its name in the great Peedee; comprising a territory equal in extent
to several of the States of the American Union, and presenting a
varied topography, unsurpassed for bold mountain scenery and lovely
landscapes spreading over the charming champaign country lying between
the Yadkin and Catawba rivers. Within this territory are now organized
many counties, with attractive features, one of which is the county of


Alexander Osborn was born in New Jersey in 1709, and emigrated to the
western part of Rowan county (now Iredell) about 1755. He was a
Colonel in the Colonial government, and as such marched with a
regiment of Rowan troops to Hillsboro in 1768 to assist Governor Tryon
in suppressing the "Regulation" movement.

He married Agnes McWhorter, a sister of Dr. Alexander McWhorter,
president of Queen's Museum College in Charlotte. His residence
(called Belmont) was one of the earliest worshiping places of the
Presbyterians of Rowan county before the present "Center Church" was
erected, and became by compromise the _central_ meeting-house of
worship for a large extent of surrounding country. Colonel Osborn was
a man of fine character and wielded a strong influence in his day and

In the graveyard of Center Church, on a double headstone, are the
following records:

     "Here lys the body of Col. Alexander Osborn, who deceased
     July y'e 11th, 1776, aged 67 years;" and, separated by a
     dividing upright line, this record appears:

     "Here lys the body of Agnes Osborn, who deceased July y'e
     9th, 1776."

From these records it would appear that this worthy couple left the
scenes of earth for a brighter world only two days apart, and not on
the same day, as stated by some authorities. They left one son, Adlai
Osborn, who graduated at Princeton College in 1768. He was Clerk of
the Court for Rowan county under the Royal government, and continued
in that office until 1809. He was a man of fine literary attainments,
the warm friend of education, and one of the first Trustees of the
State University. He died in 1815, leaving a large family, among whom
were Spruce McCay Osborn, who graduated at Chapel Hill in 1806;
studied medicine, entered the army as surgeon, and was killed at the
massacre of Fort Mimms in the war of 1812; and Edwin Jay Osborn, who
was distinguished as a lawyer of eloquence and learning, and was the
father of the late Judge James W. Osborn, of Charlotte, one of
Mecklenburg's most worthy, gifted and lamented sons.


Captain William Sharpe was born on the 13th of December, 1742, and was
the eldest son of Thomas Sharpe, of Cecil county, Maryland. At the age
of twenty-one he came to North Carolina and settled in Mecklenburg
county, where he married a daughter of David Reese, one of the signers
of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. He was a lawyer by
profession and had a large practice. Soon after his marriage he moved
to the western part of Rowan county (now Iredell) and took an active
and decided stand for liberty. The Journal of the "Committee of
Safety" for Rowan county, from 1774 to 1776, presents a noble record
of his activity and influence.

He was a member from Rowan county to the Provincial Congress which met
at Newbern in April, 1775; and also of the Congress at Hillsboro, in
August, 1775. In November, 1776, he was a member of the Convention at
Halifax which formed our first State Constitution. He acted as aid to
General Rutherford in his campaign against the Cherokee Indians in
1776. In 1777 he was appointed with Waightstill Avery, Joseph Winston
and Robert Laneer to form a treaty with the same tribe of Indians.

In 1779 he was appointed a member of the Continental Congress at
Philadelphia, and served until 1782. He died in July, 1818, in the
77th year of his age, leaving a widow and twelve children. Two of his
sons, William and Thomas, were in the battle at Ramsour's Mill,--the
former commanding a company with distinguished bravery, and, near the
close of the action, shot down one of the Tory captains which speedily
terminated the fortunes of the day in favor of the American arms.

His eldest daughter, Matilda, married William W. Erwin, of Burke
county, who, for more than forty years, was Clerk of the Superior
Court for that county, and in November, 1789, was the delegate to the
Convention at Fayetteville which ratified the Federal Constitution.
Like a faithful vine she raised fifteen children who have held
honorable positions in society. His second daughter, Ruth, married
Col. Andrew Caldwell, of Iredell county, who was often a member of the
State Legislature. He was the father of the late Judge David F.
Caldwell, the Hon. Joseph P. Caldwell, Dr. Elam Caldwell, of
Lincolnton, and others.


Many interesting events which transpired within the territory of "old
Rowan" during the war of the Revolution, have unfortunately been
buried from our view by those who have passed away. A few traditions
still linger in the memory of the descendants of those who were actors
in those scenes relating more particularly to the north-eastern
portion of Iredell, and of some of the families who resided there. And
although such traditions can only be now presented as detached and
fragmentary items of history, yet they are worthy of being preserved
and placed on permanent record.

The facts given in this sketch relate to that part of Iredell lying
between Statesville, its county seat, and Yadkinville, the county seat
of Yadkin county, and mostly near to the dividing line of these two

The numerous creeks and small streams which water this portion of
Iredell, empty into three large streams of about the same size,
flowing through it, named South Yadkin, Rocky Creek, and Hunting
Creek. These streams mingle their waters in a common channel before
their confluence with the Great Yadkin, in the county of Davie.

In the year 1778, Thomas Young removed from Mecklenburg, Virginia, to
North Carolina, and settled on Hunting Creek, within three miles of
the place where the counties of Yadkin, Davie, and Iredell now form a
common corner. He was then passed the age for military service, but
had furnished three sons-in-law and two sons to the army of General
Washington, and a third son, at sixteen years of age, to the army at
Norfolk, Va.

One of his sons-in-law, Major William Gill, entered the service at the
beginning of the war, and became connected with the staff of General
Washington. He served in the capacity of aid to the Commander-in-chief
through the war, and was with him at the surrender of Cornwallis, at
Yorktown. From this point he returned to his family, in Mecklenburg,
Va., who had not heard from him in two years.

Soon after the establishment of peace, Major Gill, with his family,
and the other two sons-in-law of Mr. Young, viz: Major Daniel Wright
and Dr. Thomas Moody, and his sons, William, Henry, and Thomas Young,
removed to North Carolina and settled near him. Major Gill settled on
Rocky Creek, near to the site of the present village of Olin, and, at
his death, was interred in the family burying ground on the lands of
his father-in-law. The record on his tombstone states that he died on
the 4th of September, 1797, in the 47th year of his age. His
commission is now in possession of his descendants, in Iredell county.

The part which Major Gill bore in the great struggle for independence,
was once familiar in the traditions of his family, and must have been
satisfactory to General Washington, from the fact that he continued
with him to the end of the war, and bore with him into retirement the
commission which made him one of the military family of the father of
his country.

A single incident will show the spirit with which Maj. Gill bore
himself on the battle-field. At the battle of Brandywine, while
discharging his duty, he became separated from his command, and, in
the dense smoke of the conflict, rode into the ranks of the enemy.
Upon discovering his situation, the only means of escape which
presented itself, was to leap his horse over a high rail fence, which
was being scattered by the artillery of the enemy. This feat he
accomplished successfully, and afterward received the congratulations
of his General for the spirited adventure and escape.

It has not been recorded in history that the mortal remains of a
member of the staff of General Washington repose on the banks of
Hunting Creek, in the county of Iredell, N.C. The tradition here given
of the fact, can be yet fully attested by surviving members of the
family of Major Gill, as well as by his commission.

Captain Andrew Carson was a younger son-in-law of Mr. Young, having
married after the family removed to North Carolina. He and his
brother, Lindsay Carson, both joined the service in the southern army.
And let it be recorded, in passing, that Lindsay Carson was the father
of Christopher Houston Carson, now widely known as "Kit Carson," the
great Indian scout, and that "Kit" was born on Hunting Creek, within
half a mile of the residence of Mr. Thomas Young.

Andrew Carson, like his nephew, "Kit," was of an adventurous
disposition, and was the bearer of dispatches from the commanding
officers in the up-country to those in South Carolina. This duty made
him acquainted with the command of General Francis Marion, which
suited his taste, and he connected himself with it. He was with the
"Swamp Fox," so greatly dreaded by the British and the Tories, in many
of his stealthy marches and daring surprises, the recital of which
would send the blood careering through the veins of his juvenile
listeners, half a century ago. The memory of them now awakens a dim
recollection of the thrill and absorbing interest then experienced.

Captain Carson was connected with the command of Baron DeKalb, at the
battle of Camden, and was by the side of that noble officer when he
was shot down while crossing a branch, and bore him out in his own
arms. Captain Carson also sleeps in the same family cemetery with
Major Gill.

With a family thus engaged in the defence of their country, it will be
readily understood that their parental home was no ordinary rendezvous
for sympathisers in its vicinity. When Mr. Young settled in an almost
unbroken forest on the banks of Hunting Creek, he located and
constructed his improvements with the view of defence in cases of
emergency. He built two substantial log houses, about forty feet
apart, fronting each other, and closed the end openings with strong
stockades. Port holes were provided to be used for observation, or
otherwise, as occasion might demand. The buildings are yet standing,
in a good state of preservation. This was headquarters for the Whigs
for many miles around. It was the point for receiving and distributing
information, as well as for concerting measures for the aid of the
cause of freedom, and for depositing supplies for friends in the
field. The Brushy Mountains were but a few miles distant, and were
infested with Tories, who made predatory incursions into this part of
Iredell, carrying off stock, devastating farms, and ambuscading and
shooting Whigs, who were especially obnoxious to them.

Mr. Young's fortifications presented a rallying point for defence
against such invasions, as Fort Dobbs did four miles north of

He was himself a member of an association of eight neighbors, who were
engaged in manufacturing powder in a rude way for the use of their
home department. Against this association the Tories were extremely
bitter, and conspired to kill them. They succeeded in murdering seven
of them, and detailed one of their number to way-lay and shoot Mr.
Young. The man assigned to this duty was named Aldrich, who concealed
himself in the woods near the dwelling of his intended victim, and
watched for an opportunity to perpetrate the murderous deed. The
habitual circumspection of Mr. Young foiled him in his purpose until
he was discovered by a member of the family, and became so frightened
as to induce him to abandon the effort.

After peace had been proclaimed, Captain Andrew Caldwell, who resided
on Rocky Creek, and was the father of Judge David F. and Hon. Joseph
P. Caldwell, and other sons well known in the public offices of
Iredell, was appointed the Commissioner to administer the oath of
allegiance in that part of the county. Aldrich presented himself among
them, but the recollection of his seven murders, still fresh in the
memory of all, so aroused the indignation of Captain Caldwell and
Captain Andrew Carson, who was present, that instead of making him a
loyal citizen of the United States, they went to work and forthwith
hung him on one of the joists of the barn, in which they were
transacting their lawful business.

In many places, Whigs who were past the age for service in the field,
organized themselves into vigilance associations for the welfare of
the country and their own protection. The duties devolving upon them
rendered them familiar with events as they really transpired, and
often caused them to pass through thrilling and adventurous scenes.
They learned to know and how to trust each other. Attachments thus
formed by heads of families were strengthened, and more strongly
united in ties of friendship after the restoration of peace. The
descendants of these associated friends were educated to revere the
memories of the fathers, and to cultivate the society and friendship
of their children. The traditions of the "dark days" of the war were
always topics of family and fireside conversation with the "old
folks," and they always found attentive listeners in their posterity,
upon whose youthful minds impressions then made were as enduring as


Captain Alexander Davidson was one of the earliest settlers of the
western part of Rowan county (now Iredell.) He took an active part in
the Revolutionary struggle for independence. When Cornwallis was
moving from Charleston toward North Carolina, and General Gates was
ordered to meet him, Governor Caswell, of North Carolina, ordered a
draft of men to strengthen Gates' army. In response to this order the
people in that part of Iredell county bordering on the Catawba river
below the Island Ford, assembled at a central point, afterward known
as Brown's Muster Ground, when a company was formed under the draft
and Alexander Davidson was elected its captain. Soon afterward Captain
Davidson marched his company to Gates' rendezvous, when that officer
moved his army to the unfortunate and sanguinary field of Camden, S.C.

In that disastrous engagement Captain Davidson's company took an
active part, and the greater portion of them was cut to pieces.
Captain John Davidson, a grand son of Captain Alexander Davidson, now
(1876) resides near Statesville, in Iredell county. He well remembers
that the commission of his grand father, as captain of this company,
and a diary of his services during the war of the Revolution, were in
the possession of his father's family until 1851 when they were taken
to Washington City by the late Hon. J.P. Caldwell and were not

Captain John Davidson is one of the most prominent and public-spirited
citizens of Iredell county, and implicit reliance may be placed in his


Captain James Houston was born in 1747, and was an early and devoted
friend of liberty. In the battle of Ramsour's Mill, near the present
town of Lincolnton, he took an active part, and by his undaunted
courage greatly contributed to the defeat of the Tories on that
occasion. During the engagement Captain Houston was severely wounded
in the thigh, from the effects of which he never fully recovered.
Seeing the man who inflicted the severe and painful wound he shot him
in the back and killed him as he ran. When it was ascertained that
Cornwallis had crossed the Catawba river at Cowan's Ford, and was
approaching with his army, the family of Captain Houston conveyed him
to the "big swamp" in the immediate vicinity, known as "Purgatory,"
and there concealed him until the British had marched quite through
the country.

When the British army passed the residence of Captain Houston some of
them entered the yard and house, and threatened Mrs. Houston with
death if she did not quickly inform them where her husband was, and
also where her gold and silver and China ware were kept, using, at the
same time, very course and vulgar language. Mrs. Houston, knowing
something of "woman's rights" in every civilized community,
immediately asked the protection of an officer, who, obeying the
better impulses of human nature, ordered the men into line and marched
them off.

Mrs. Houston and "Aunt Dinah" had taken the timely precaution to hide
the China ware in the _tan vats_ and the _pewter-ware_ in the mud
immediately beneath the pole over which it was necessary to walk in
conveying provisions to Captain Houston in his place of concealment.
The pole was put under the water and mud every time by aunt Dinah when
she returned, so that no track or trace could be discovered of her
pathway into the swamp.

Captain James Houston was the father of the late Dr. Joel B. Houston,
of Catawba, and the grandfather of R.B.B. Houston, Esq., who now wares
the gold sleeve buttons of his patriotic ancestor with his initials,
J.H. engraved upon them. Dr. J.H.G. Houston, of Alabama, who married
Mary Jane Simonton, is another grandson.

The following is


Captain, James Houston; Lieutenant, William Davidson;
David Evins, David Byers, Robert Byers, Nat.
Ewing, Alexander Work, William Creswell, William
Erwin, John Hovis, John Thompson, John Beard, John
Poston, Robert Poston, Paul Cunningham, John M. Connell,
Moses White, Angus McCauley, Robert Brevard,
Adam Torrence, Sr., Adam Torrence, Jr., Charles Quigley,
James Gulick, Benjamin Brevard, Thomas Templeton,
John Caldwell, Joseph McCawn, James Young,
James Gray, Philip Logan (Irish), William Vint, Daniel
Bryson, John Singleton.

Many of these have descendants in Iredell at the present time, and
they can refer with veneration to the names of their patriotic

Captain James Houston died on the 2d of August, 1819, in the 73d year
of his age, and is buried in Center Church, graveyard.


Rev. James Hall, a distinguished soldier of the Revolution--the
Captain of a company and Chaplain of a Regiment at the same time--was
born at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, on the 22d of August, 1744. When he
was about eight years old his parents, who were Scotch-Irish, removed
to North Carolina and settled in the upper part of Rowan county, (now
Iredell), in the bounds of the congregation to which he afterward gave
thirty-eight years of his ministerial life.

Secluded in the forests of Rowan, and removed to a great extent from
the follies of the great world, James Hall grew up under the watchful
care of pious parents, receiving such early instruction as the country
schools then afforded.

In his twenty-sixth year he commenced the study of the classics, and
made rapid progress, as his mind was matured and his application close
and unremitting. When duly prepared he entered Princeton College,
under the direction of President Witherspoon, one of the signers of
the National Declaration of Independence. He graduated in 1774, in his
thirty-first year. The Theological reading of Mr. Hall was pursued
under the direction of Dr. Witherspoon, that eminent minister and
patriot, whose views in religion and politics were thoroughly imbibed
by his student. In the spring of 1776 he was licensed by the
Presbytery of Orange to preach the Gospel of everlasting Peace. During
the exciting scenes of the Revolution, in which he had been licensed
and ordained, Mr. Hall held the office of pastor over the three
congregations of Fourth Creek, Concord and Bethany, which extended
from the South Yadkin river to the Catawba. After the Revolution he
served these three congregations until 1790, when, wishing to devote
more time to the cause of domestic missions, he was released from his
connection, with Fourth Creek and Concord. His connection with Bethany
continued until his death, in July, 1826.

A full account of Mr. Hall's patriotic services during the Revolution
would far transcend the prescribed limits of this sketch. The
principles of civil and religious freedom which he received in his
parental, as well as in his collegiate training, would not allow him
to remain neuter or indifferent, when a cruel, invading foe was
trampling on the just and dearest rights of his country.

Accordingly, in response to the warm, patriotic impulses of his
nature, when General Rutherford called out an army of over two
thousand men from the surrounding counties to subdue the Cherokee
Indians, who were committing numerous murders and depredations on the
frontier settlements, Mr. Hall promptly volunteered his services, and
was gladly accepted by the commanding officers as their Chaplain.

In the brief, diary notes of Captain Charles Polk, (now before the
author), who commanded a company in this expedition, he says:

     "On Thursday, the 12th of September, we marched down the
     river three miles, to Cowee Town, and encamped. On this day
     there was a party of men sent down this river (_Nuckessey_)
     ten miles, to cut down the corn; the Indians fired on them
     as they were cutting the corn and killed Hancock Polk, of
     Colonel Beekman's Regiment."

On Friday, the 13th, they remained encamped in Cowee Town. On
Saturday, the 14th, "we marched to Nuckessey Town, six miles higher up
the river, and encamped. On Sunday, the 15th, one of Captain Irwin's
men was buried in _Nuckessey_ Town. On Monday, the 16th, we marched
five miles--this day with a detachment of twelve hundred men--for the
Valley Towns, and encamped on the waters of Tennessee river. Mr. Hall
preached a sermon last Sunday; in time of sermon the express we sent
to the South army returned home. On Tuesday, the 17th, we marched six
miles, and arrived at a town called _Nowee_, about 12 o'clock; three
guns were fired at Robert Harris, of Mecklenburg, by the Indians, said
Harris being in the rear of the army. We marched one mile from _Nowee_
and encamped on the side of a steep mountain, without any fire."

These extracts show that Mr. Hall was then at his post of duty, and
ready to deliver religious instruction to the American army. The
sermon was directly prompted by the death of a fellow soldier. Who can
tell how many hearts were touched and benefitted by the gospel truths
proclaimed by the youthful preacher on that solemn occasion? The
counsels of Eternity can alone answer the question.

In 1779, when South Carolina was overrun by the British and Tories,
Mr. Hall's spirit was stirred within him on receiving intelligence of
the massacres and plunderings experienced by the inhabitants of the
upper part of that State. Under this state of feeling he assembled his
congregation and addressed them in strong, patriotic language on what
he believed to be their present duty. He pictured to their view, in a
most thrilling manner, the wrongs and sufferings of their afflicted
countrymen. The appeal to their patriotism was not made in vain. With
as little delay as possible a company of cavalry, composed of choice
young men from his congregation, was promptly raised. On its
organization, Mr. Hall was unanimously chosen for their Captain; all
his excuses were overruled, and, in order to encourage his countrymen
_to act_ rather than _to talk_, he accepted the command. "Heart
within, and God o'erhead." During this tour of service two of his men
were taken prisoners. As he could not recover them by force of arms,
their case was made the subject of prayer, both in his private
devotions and in public with his company. In a few days afterward the
prisoners made their escape and rejoined their fellow soldiers.

They stated that, as their captors lay encamped one night on Broad
River, in South Carolina, the sentinel placed at the door of the
guard-house was observed to be drowsy; they remaining quiet, he soon
fell asleep. When the prisoners discovered he was truly reposing in
"balmy sleep," they quietly stepped over him as he lay with his gun
folded in his bosom, and quickly ran for the river. The noise of their
plunge into the water, aroused the attention of another more wakeful
sentry; the alarm was given, and boats were manned for the pursuit,
but the active swimmers reached the opposite bank in safety and thus
effected their escape, to the great joy of the praying Captain and his
faithful company.

In the winter of 1781, when Lord Cornwallis was approaching the
Catawba river with his army, General Davidson, who was in command of
the Whigs on the opposite or Mecklenburg side of that stream,
concentrated his forces, stationed at different points on the river,
to resist him at Cowan's Ford. In order to strengthen himself as much
as possible, he sent couriers to the adjoining counties, calling on
the Whigs to rally to his assistance. One of these couriers, sent to
Fourth Creek Church, (now Statesville), in Iredell county, arrived on
the Sabbath, while the pastor, the Rev. James Hall, was preaching. The
urgency of his business did not permit him to delay in making known
the nature of his mission, and, as the best course of doing so, he
walked up to the pulpit and handed Davidson's call to the pastor, the
Rev. James Hall, whose patriotic record was well known. Mr. Hall
glanced over the document, and understanding its purport, brought his
discourse to a speedy close, descended from the pulpit, and read it to
his congregation.

After reading it he made a patriotic appeal to his audience to respond
to this call of their country. Whereupon, a member of the congregation
moved that they organize by calling Mr. Hall, the pastor, to preside,
and proceed to take such action as the circumstances demanded. The
pastor accepted the position of President of the meeting, renewed his
appeal to the patriotism of his people, and demonstrated his sincerity
in calling for volunteers by placing his own name at the head of the
list. His example was quickly followed by a sufficient number of his
congregation to form a company. It was then decided to adjourn, and
meet again at the church at 10 o'clock next morning, mounted, with
arms and supplied with ammunition, and five days rations, at which
time they would elect officers and proceed to the scene of conflict.

Accordingly, on the following morning the pastor and the greater part
of the male members of his congregation responded to roll call under
the noble oaks, where then, and now, stands Fourth Creek Presbyterian
Church, in the corporate limits of the town of Statesville, the county
seat of Iredell.

The assemblage proceeded immediately to the election of officers, when
the Rev. James Hall, their pastor, was unanimously chosen Captain.

In accordance with the choice of his beloved congregation, so
cordially given, Mr. Hall instantly assumed command, put his men in
rapid motion, and, in due time, reported to General Davidson and took
his position in line, to resist the invaders of his country.

This was the sort of patriotism that burned in the bosoms of the
Scotch-Irish Presbyterians between the Yadkin and Catawba rivers;
which was enkindled by the pastors of the seven churches of
Mecklenburg, and burst forth into a flame upon the classic site of
Charlotte, on the 20th of May, 1775.

When the war of the revolution had ended, Mr. Hall devoted himself,
with undivided energies, to his beloved work, the gospel ministry. The
effects of the long and harassing war upon the churches in Carolina
were deplorable; the regular ordinances of the gospel had been broken
up, and the preached word had become less valued. His efforts in
promoting vital godliness met with the Divine approbation, were
attended with His blessing, and resulted in a revival of religion.

One sphere of usefulness in which Mr. Hall excelled, was the education
of young men. Near the commencement of the war he conducted for a time
a classical school, called Clio's Nursery, on Snow Creek, in Iredell
county. This he superintended with care, and through its agency
brought out many distinguished men that might not otherwise have
obtained an education.

This eminent minister of the gospel died on the 25th of July, 1826, in
the eighty-second year of his age, and is buried in the graveyard of
Bethany Church, in Iredell county.


Hugh Lawson White was born in Iredell county in 1773, on the
plantation now owned by Thomas Caldwell, Esq., about two miles west of
Center Church, and five miles east of Beattie's Ford, on the Catawba
river. The old family mansion has long since disappeared, and the plow
now runs smoothly over its site. His grandfather, Moses White,
emigrated to America from Ireland about 1742, and married a daughter
of Hugh Lawson, one of the patriarchal settlers of the country. He had
six sons, James, Moses, John, William, David and Andrew; many of whose
descendants now reside in Iredell county. James White, the father of
Hugh, was a soldier of the Revolution. About 1786 he moved to Knox
county, East Tennessee, and was one of the original founders of the
present flourishing city of Knoxville. When the Creek (Indian) war
broke out he entered the army, was soon made a Brigadier General, and
was distinguished for his bravery, energy and talents.

Hugh L. White's education was conducted under the care of Rev. Samuel
Carrick, Judge Roane, and Dr. Patterson, of Philadelphia. After
completing his studies he returned home and commenced the practice of
his profession. By close attention to business he soon acquired
eminence, numerous friends, and a handsome competency. At the early
age of twenty-eight he was elected one of the Judges of the Superior
Court. In 1807 he resigned his Judgship and retired to his farm.

There appears, says a writer on biography, always to be a congeniality
between the pursuits of agriculture and all great and good minds. We
do not pretend to analyze the _rationale_ of this, or why it is that
patriotism exists with more elevation and fervency in the retirement
of a farm than in the busy mart of crowded cities. The history of man
proves this fact, that the noblest instances of self-sacrificing
patriotism which have adorned the drama of human life, have been
presented by those who are devoted to agricultural pursuits. It is the
only pursuit that man followed in his state of primal innocence, and
surviving his fall, allows the mind

     "To look through nature, up to nature's God."

But his well-known abilities were too highly appreciated by his
fellow-citizens to grant him a long retirement. Soon after his
resignation of the judicial robes he was elected a Senator to the
State Legislature.

In 1809, when Tennessee remodeled her judiciary department, and
created the Supreme Court, Judge White was unanimously chosen to
preside over this important tribunal of justice. He could not with
propriety refuse to accept a position so cordially tendered, and
highly honorable in its character. For six years he presided over its
deliberations with such fidelity and strict integrity as to win
universal esteem and unfading honors for his reputation. At the same
time he was elected President of the State Bank. Under his able
management its character acquired stability and public confidence.

The State of Tennessee was then severely suffering from the hostile
incursions and savage depredations of the Creek Indians. At the
darkest period of the campaign, when General Jackson was in the midst
of a wild territory, and surrounded, not only by cruel savages, but
enduring famine, disaffection and complaints, Judge White left the
Supreme Court Bench, and with a single companion, sought and found,
after days and nights of peril, the camp of the veteran Jackson. He
immediately volunteered their services, and they were gladly accepted.
While Judge White was absent on this campaign he lost several terms of
his court; and as the Judges were only paid for services actually
rendered, the Legislature resolved that there should be no deduction
in his annual salary as Judge. This continuance of salary, so
gratefully offered, he declined to receive.

In 1822 he was appointed, with Governor Tazewell of Virginia, and
Governor King, of Alabama, a commissioner under the convention with
Spain, which position he accepted and held until its term expired in

In 1825, General Jackson having resigned his seat as a Senator in
Congress, Judge White was unanimously elected to fill out his term. In
1827 he was unanimously elected for a full term; and in 1832 was
chosen President of the Senate. In 1836 he was voted for as President
of the United States.

He died, with the consciousness of a well spent life, at his adopted
home in Tennessee, on the 10th of April, 1840, aged sixty-seven years.



Lincoln county was formed in 1768, from Mecklenburg county, and named
Tryon, in honor of William Tryon, at that time the Royal Governor, but
his oppressive administration, terminating with cold-blooded murders
at the battle of Alamance in 1771, caused the General Assembly in 1779
to blot out his odious name and divide the territory into Lincoln and
Rutherford counties. These names were imposed during the Revolution
when both of the honored heroes were fighting the battles of their

Lincoln county, separated from Mecklenburg by the noble Catawba river,
has a Revolutionary record of peculiar interest. In June, 1780, the
battle of Ramsour's Mill was fought, which greatly enlivened the
Whigs, and, in a corresponding degree, weakened the Tory influence
throughout the surrounding country. In January, 1781, Lord Cornwallis,
with a large invading army, passed through the county and camped for
three days on the Ramsour battle-ground. General O'Hara, one of his
chief officers, camped at the "Reep place," about two miles and a half
west of Ramsour's Mill. Tarleton, with his cavalry, crossed the South
Fork, in "Cobb's bottom," and passed over the ridge on which
Lincolnton now stands (before the place had a "local habitation and a
name,") in approaching his lordship's headquarters. Although Lincoln
county contained many who were misled through the artful influence of
designing men, and fought on the _wrong side_, yet, within her borders
were found a gallant band of unflinching patriots, both of German and
Scotch-Irish descent, who acted nobly throughout the struggle for
independence, and "made their mark" victoriously at Ramsour's Mill,
King's Mountain, the Cowpens, and at other places in North and South

Lincoln county, as Tryon, sent to the first popular Convention, which
met at Newbern, on the 25th of August, 1774, Robert Alexander and
David Jenkins. To Hillsboro, August 21st, 1775, John Walker, Robert
Alexander, Joseph Hardin, William Graham, Frederick Hambright and
William Alston. To Halifax, April 4th, 1776, James Johnston and
Charles McLean. To the same place, November 12th, 1776, (which body
formed the first State Constitution,) Joseph Hardin, William Graham,
Robert Abernathy, William Alston and John Barber. Several of these
names will be noticed in the subsequent sketches.


The unsuccessful attempt made by General Lincoln to take Savannah, and
the subsequent capture of the army under his command at Charleston,
induced Sir Henry Clinton to regard the States of South Carolina and
Georgia as subdued and restored to the British Crown. The South was
then left, for a time, without any regular force to defend her
territory. Soon after the surrender of Charleston, detachments of the
British army occupied the principal military posts of Georgia and
South Carolina. Col. Brown re-occupied Augusta; Col. Balfour took
possession of Ninety-Six, on the Wateree, and Lord Cornwallis pressed
forward to Camden. Sir Henry Clinton then embarked with the main army
for New York, leaving four thousand troops for the further subjugation
of the South. After his departure the chief command devolved on Lord
Cornwallis, who immediately repaired to Charleston to establish
commercial regulations and organize the civil administration of the
State, leaving Lord Rawdon in command at Camden. North Carolina had
not yet been invaded, and the hopes of the patriots in the South now
seemed mainly to rest on this earliest pioneer State in the cause of

Charleston surrendered on the 12th of May, 1780. On the 29th of the
same month Tarleton defeated Col. Buford in the Waxhaw settlement,
upwards of thirty miles south of Charlotte, on his way to the relief
of Charleston. Just before the surrender, a well organized force from
Mecklenburg, Rowan and Lincoln counties, left Charlotte with the same
object in view, but arrived too late, as Charleston was then
completely invested by the British army. And yet this force, after its
return, proved of great service in protecting the intervening country,
and prevented the invasion of North Carolina until a few weeks after
the battle of Camden.

At this critical period General Rutherford ordered out the whole
militia, and by the 3d of June about nine hundred men assembled near
Charlotte. On the next day the militia were addressed by the Rev.
Alexander McWhorter, the patriotic President of "Liberty Hall
Academy," (formerly "Queen's Museum"), after which General Rutherford
dismissed them, with orders to hold themselves in readiness for
another call. Major, afterward General, Davie having recovered from
his wounds received at Stono, near Charleston, again took the field,
and part of his cavalry were ordered to reconnoiter between Charlotte
and Camden. Having heard that Lord Rawdon had retired with his army to
Hanging Rock, General Rutherford moved from his rendezvous to Rea's
plantation, eighteen miles north-east of Charlotte, to Mallard Creek.
On the 14th of June the troops under his command were properly
organized. The cavalry, sixty-five in number under Major Davie, were
equipped as dragoons, and formed into two companies under Captains
Lemmonds and Martin. A battalion of three hundred light infantry were
placed under the command of General William Davidson, a regular
officer, who could not join his Regiment in Charleston after that
place was invested. About five hundred men remained under the
immediate command of General Rutherford. On the evening of the 14th of
June he received intelligence that the Tories, under Col. John Moore,
had embodied themselves in strong force at Ramsour's Mill, near the
present town of Lincolnton. He immediately issued orders to Colonel
Francis Locke, of Rowan; Major David Wilson, of Mecklenburg; also to
Captains Falls, Knox, Brandon, and other officers, to raise men to
disperse the Tories, deeming it unwise to weaken his own force until
the object of Lord Rawdon, still encamped at Waxhaws, should become
better known.

On the 15th General Rutherford advanced to a position two miles south
of Charlotte. On the 17th he was informed Lord Rawdon had retired
towards Camden. On the 18th he broke up his camp south of Charlotte,
and marched twelve miles to Tuckasege Ford, on the Catawba river. On
the evening of that day he dispatched an express to Col. Locke,
advising him of his movements, and ordering him to unite with him
(Rutherford) at Col. Dickson's plantation, three miles northwest of
Tuckasege Ford, on the evening of the 19th or on the morning of the
20th of June. The express miscarried, in some unaccountable way, and
never reached Colonel Locke.

When General Rutherford crossed the river on the evening of the 19th,
it was believed he would march in the night, and attack the Tories
next morning; but still supposing his express had reached Colonel
Locke, he waited for the arrival of that officer at his present
encampment in Lincoln county, where he was joined by Col. Graham's
regiment. At ten o'clock at night of the 19th, Col. James Johnston, a
brave officer, and well acquainted with the intervening country,
arrived at Gen. Rutherford's camp. He had been dispatched by Colonel
Locke from Mountain Creek, sixteen miles from Ramsour's Mill, to
inform Gen. Rutherford of his intention of attacking the Tories next
morning at sunrise, and requested his co-operation. Gen. Rutherford,
still expecting his express would certainly reach Col. Locke soon
after Col. Johnston left his encampment on Mountain Creek, made no
movement until early next morning.

In pursuance of the orders given to Col. Locke and other officers from
headquarters at Mallard Creek, on the 14th of June, they quickly
collected as many men as they could, and on the 18th Major Wilson,
with sixty-five men, crossed the Catawba at Toole's Ford and joined
Major McDowell, from Burke, with twenty-five horsemen. They passed up
the river at a right angle with the position of the Tories, for the
purpose of meeting other Whig forces. At McEwen's Ford, being joined
by Captain Falls with forty men, they continued their march up the
east side of Mountain Creek, and on Monday, the 19th, they united with
Col. Locke, Captain Brandon and other officers, with two hundred and
seventy men. The whole force now amounted to nearly four hundred men.
They encamped on Mountain Creek at a place called the _glades_. The
officers met in council and unanimously agreed it would be unsafe to
remain long in their present position, and, notwithstanding the
disparity of the opposing forces, it was determined that they should
march during the night and attack the Tories in their camp at an early
hour next morning. It was said that the Tories being ignorant of their
inferior force, and being suddenly attacked would be easily routed. At
this time, Col. Johnston, as previously stated, was dispatched from
Mountain Creek to apprise General Rutherford of their determination.
Late in the evening they commenced their march from Mountain Creek,
and passing down the south side of the mountain they halted at the
west end of it in the night when they again consulted on the plan of
attack. It was determined that the companies under Captains Falls,
McDowell and Brandon should act on horseback and march in front. No
other arrangement was made, and it was left to the officers to be
governed by circumstances after they reached the enemy. They
accordingly resumed their march and by day light arrived within a mile
of the Tories, assembled in strong force, about two hundred and fifty
yards east of Ramsour's Mill, and half a mile north of the present
town of Lincolnton. The Tories occupied an excellent position on the
summit of the ridge, which has a gentle slope, and was then covered
with a scattered growth of trees. The foot of the hill on the south
and east was bounded by a glade and its western base by Ramsour's mill
pond, The position was so well chosen that nothing but the most
determined bravery enabled the Whigs, with a greatly inferior force,
to drive the Tories from it, and claim the victory of one of the most
severely contested battles of the Revolution.

The forces of Colonel Locke approached the battle ground from the
east, a part of his command, at least, having taken "refreshments" at
Dellinger's Tavern, which stood near the present residence of B.S.
Johnson, Esq., of Lincolnton. The companies of Captains Falls,
McDowell and Brandon were mounted, and the other troops under Col.
Locke were arranged in the road, two deep, behind them. Under this
organization they marched to the battle-field. The mounted companies
led the attack. When they came within sight of the picket, stationed
in the road a considerable distance from the encampment, they
perceived that their approach had not been anticipated. The picket
fired and fled to their camp. The cavalry pursued, and turning to the
right out of the road, they rode up within thirty steps of the line
and fired at the Tories. This bold movement of the cavalry threw them
into confusion, but seeing only a few men assailing them they quickly
recovered from their panic and poured in such a destructive fire upon
the horsemen as to compel them to retreat. Soon the infantry hurried
up to their assistance, the cavalry rallied, and the fight became
general on both sides. It was in this first attack of the cavalry that
the brave Captain Gilbraith Falls was mortally wounded in the breast,
rode about one hundred and fifty yards east of the battle ground, and
fell dead from his horse. The Tories, seeing the effect of their fire,
came a short distance down the hill, and thus brought themselves in
fair view of the Whig infantry. Here the action was renewed and the
contest fiercely maintained for a considerable length of time. In
about an hour the Tories began to fall back to their original position
on the ridge, and a little beyond its summit, to shield a part of
their bodies from the destructive and unceasing fire of the Whigs.
From this strong and elevated position the Tories, during the action,
were enabled at one time to drive the Whigs nearly back to the glade.

At this moment Captain Hardin led a small force of Whigs into the
field, and, under cover of the fence, kept up a galling fire on the
right flank of the Tories. This movement gave their lines the proper
extension, and the contest being well maintained in the center, the
Tories began to retreat up the ridge. Before they reached its summit
they found a part of their former position in possession of the Whigs.
In this quarter the action became close, and the opposing parties in
two instances mixed together, and having no bayonets they struck at
each other with the butts of their guns. In this strange contest
several of the Tories were made prisoners, and others, divesting
themselves of their mark of distinction, (a twig of green pine-top
stuck in their hats), intermixed with the Whigs, and all being in
their common dress, escaped without being detected.

The Tories finding the left of their position in possession of the
Whigs, and their center closely pressed, retreated down the ridge
toward the pond, still exposed to the incessant fire of the Whig
forces. The Whigs pursued their advantages until they got entire
possession of the ridge, when they discovered, to their astonishment,
that the Tories had collected in strong force on the other side of the
creek, beyond the mill. They expected the fight would be renewed, and
attempted to form a line, but only eighty-six men could be paraded.
Some were scattered during the action, others were attending to their
wounded friends, and, after repeated efforts, not more than one
hundred and ten men could be collected.

In this situation of affairs, it was resolved by Colonel Locke and
other officers, that Major David Wilson of Mecklenburg, and Captain
William Alexander of Rowan, should hasten to General Rutherford, and
urge him to press forward to their assistance. General Rutherford had
marched early in the morning from Colonel Dickson's plantation, and
about six or seven miles from Ramsour's, was met by Wilson and

Major Davie's cavalry was started off at full gallop, and Colonel
Davidson's battalion of infantry were ordered to hasten on with all
possible speed. After progressing about two miles they were met by
others from the battle, who informed them the Tories had retreated.
The march was continued, and the troops arrived at the battleground
two hours after the action had closed. The dead and most of the
wounded were still lying where they fell.

In this action the Tories fought and maintained their ground for a
considerable length of time with persistent bravery. Very near the
present brick structure on the battle-ground, containing within its
walls the mortal remains of six gallant Whig captains, the severest
fighting took place. They here sealed with their life's blood their
devotion to their country's struggle for independence.

In addition to those from their own neighborhoods, the Tories were
reinforced two days before the battle by two hundred well-armed men
from Lower Creek, in Burke county, under Captains Whiston and Murray.
Colonel John Moore, son of Moses Moore, who resided six or seven miles
west of Lincolnton, took an active part in arousing and increasing the
Tory element throughout the county. He had joined the enemy the
preceding winter in South Carolina, and having recently returned,
dressed in a tattered suit of British uniform and with a sword
dangling at his side, announced himself as Lieutenant Colonel in the
regiment of North Carolina loyalists, commanded by Colonel John
Hamilton, of Halifax. Soon thereafter, Nicholas Welch, of the same
vicinity, who had been in the British service for eighteen months, and
bore a Major's commission in the same regiment, also returned, in a
splendid uniform, and with a purse of gold, which was ostensibly
displayed to his admiring associates, accompanied with artful speeches
in aid of the cause he had embraced. Under these leaders there was
collected in a few weeks a force of thirteen hundred men, who encamped
on the elevated position east of Ramsour's Mill, previously described.

The Tories, believing that they were completely beaten, formed a
stratagem to secure their retreat. About the time that Wilson and
Alexander were dispatched to General Rutherford, they sent a flag
under the pretense of proposing a suspension of hostilities for the
purpose of burying the dead, and taking care of the wounded. To
prevent the flag officer from seeing their small number, Major James
Rutherford and another officer were ordered to meet him a short
distance from the line. The proposition being made, Major Rutherford
demanded that the Tories should surrender in ten minutes, and then the
arrangements as requested could be effected. In the meantime Moore and
Welch gave orders that such of their own men as were on foot, or had
inferior horses, should move off singly as fast as they could; so
that, when the flag returned, not more than fifty men remained. These
very brave officers, _before the battle_, and who misled so many of
their countrymen, were among the first to take their departure from
the scene of conflict, and seek elsewhere, by rapid flight, _more
healthy quarters_. Col. Moore, with thirty of his followers, succeeded
in reaching the British army at Camden, where he was threatened with a
trial by court-martial for disobedience of orders in attempting to
embody the Loyalists before the time appointed by Lord Cornwallis.

As there was no perfect organization by either party, nor regular
returns made after the action, the loss could not be accurately
ascertained. Fifty-six men lay dead on the side of the ridge, and near
the present brick enclosure, where the hottest part of the fight
occurred. Many of the dead were found on the flanks and over the ridge
toward the Mill. It is believed that about seventy were killed
altogether, and that the loss on either side was nearly equal. About
one hundred were wounded, and fifty Tories made prisoners. The men had
no uniform, and it could not be told to which party many of the dead
belonged. Most of the Whigs wore a white piece of paper on their hats
in front, which served as a mark at which the Tories frequently aimed,
and consequently, several of the Whigs, after the battle, were found
to be shot in the head. In this battle, neighbors, near relatives and
personal friends were engaged in hostile array against each other.
After the action commenced, scarcely any orders were given by the
commanding officers. They all fought like common soldiers, and
animated each other by their example, as in the battle of King's
Mountain, a little over three months after. In no battle of the
Revolution, where a band of patriots, less than four hundred in
number, engaged against an enemy, at least twelve hundred strong, was
there an equal loss of officers, showing the leading part they
performed, and the severity of the conflict. They were all

    "Patriots, who perished for their country's right,
    Or nobly triumphed on the field of fight."

Of the Whig officers, Captains Falls, Knox, Dobson, Smith, Bowman,
Sloan, and Armstrong were killed. Captain William Falls, who commanded
one of the cavalry companies, was shot in the breast in the first
spirited charge, as previously stated, and riding a short distance in
the rear, fell dead from his horse. His body, after the battle was
over, was wrapped in a blanket procured from Mrs. Reinhardt and
conveyed to Iredell (then a part of Rowan) for burial. Captain Falls
lived in Iredell county, not far from Sherrill's Ford, on the Catawba.
There is a reliable tradition which states that when Captain Falls was
killed a Tory ran up to rob the body, and had taken his watch, when a
young son of Falls, though only fourteen years old, ran up suddenly
behind the Tory, drew his father's sword and killed him. Captain Falls
was the maternal grandfather of the late Robert Falls Simonton, who
had the sword in his possession at the time of his death, in February,

Captain Patrick Knox was mortally wounded in the thigh; an artery
being severed, he very soon died from the resulting hemorrhage.
Captain James Houston was severely wounded in the thigh, from the
effects of which he never fully recovered. Captain Daniel McKissick
was also severely wounded, but recovered, and represented Lincoln
county in the Commons from 1783 to 1787. Captains Hugh Torrence, David
Caldwell, John Reid, all of Rowan county, and Captain Smith, of
Mecklenburg, came out of the conflict unhurt. William Wilson had a
horse shot down under him, and was wounded in the second fire. Several
of the inferior officers were killed. Thirteen men from the vicinity
of Fourth Creek [Statesville] lay dead on the ground after the battle,
and many of the wounded died a few days afterward. Joseph Wasson, from
Snow Creek, received five balls, one of which it is said he carried
_forty years to a day_, when it came out of itself. Being unable to
stand up he lay on the ground, loaded his musket, and fired several

The brick monumental structure on the southern brow of the rising
battle-ground, about fifty or sixty yards from the present public
road, contains the mortal remains of six Whig Captains; also those of
Wallace Alexander, and his wife, who was a daughter of Captain Dobson,
one of the fallen heroes on this hotly-contested field of strife.

The loss of the Tories was greater in privates, but less in officers,
than the Whigs. Captains Cumberland, Warlick and Murray were killed,
and Captain Carpenter wounded. Captains Keener, Williams and others,
including Lieutenant-Colonel John Moore and Major Welch, escaped with
their lives, but not "to fight another day."

On the highest prominence of the battle-ground, in a thinly-wooded
forest, is a single headstone pointing out the graves of three Tories,
probably subordinate officers, with the initials of their names
inscribed in parentheses, thus: "[I.S.]  [N.W.]  [P.W.] "--with three
dots after each name, as here presented. A little below are two
parallel lines extending across the face of the coarse soap stone,
enclosing three hearts with crosses between, as much as to say, _here
lie three loving hearts_.

Near a pine tree now standing on the battle-ground, reliable tradition
says a long trench was dug, in which was buried nearly all of the
killed belonging to both of the contending forces, laid side by side,
as the high and the low are perfectly equal in the narrow confines of
the grave.


Early on the morning of the 20th of June, 1780, when the Tories were
forming their forces in martial array near the residence of Christian
Reinhardt, situated on the south-western brow of the battle-ground, he
conducted his wife, with two little children in his arms, and several
small negroes, across the creek to a dense cane-brake extending along
and up the western bank of the mill pond as a place of safety. He then
returned to his residence, and in a very short time the battle

As the contest raged, and peal after peal of musketry reverberated
over the surrounding hills and dales, his dwelling-house, smoke-house,
and even his empty stables were successively filled with the dead, the
dying and the wounded. When the battle was nearly over, and victory
about to result in favor of the Whigs, many of the Tories swam the
mill pond at its upper end, and thus made their escape. Two of these
fleeing Tories, with green pine tops in their hats, [their badge of
distinction], rushed through the cane-brake very near to Mrs.
Reinhardt and her tender objects of care, exclaiming as they passed.
"We are whipped! we are whipped!!" and were soon out of sight. During
the unusual commotion and terrific conflict of arms, even the deer
were aroused from their quiet retreat. One of these denizens of the
cane-brake, with sprangling horns, dashed up near to Mrs. Reinhardt,
and after viewing for a moment, with astonishment, the new occupants
of their rightful solitude, darted off with a celebrity little
surpassing that of the fleeing Tories. As soon as the firing ceased,
Mrs. Reinhardt came out of her covert with her little ones, and, on
reaching the bridge, at the mill, found it had been torn up by the
retreating Tories, but, being met there by her husband, she was
enabled to cross over, reach her home, and witness the mournful scene
which presented itself. The tender sympathy of woman's heart, ever
ready to minister to the wants of suffering humanity, was then called
into requisition, and kindly extended. In a short time her house was
stripped of every disposable blanket and sheet to wrap around the
dead, or be employed in some other useful way. Neighbors and
relatives, a few hours before bitter enemies, were now seen freely
mingling together and giving every kind attention to the sufferers,
whether Whig or Tory, within their power.


After the battle of the Cowpens, on the 17th of January, 1781, Lord
Cornwallis left his headquarters at Winnsboro, S.C., being reinforced
by General Leslie, and marched rapidly to overtake General Morgan,
encumbered with more than five hundred prisoners, and necessary
baggage, on his way to a place of safety in Virginia. His Lordship was
now smarting under two signal defeats (King's Mountain and the
Cowpens) occurring a little more than three months apart. But the race
is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong. "Man
proposes, but God disposes."

The original manuscript journal of Lord Cornwallis, now on file in the
archives of the Historical Society of the State University at Chapel
Hill, discloses, with great accuracy, the movements of the British
army through Lincoln, Mecklenburg and Rowan counties.

On the 17th of January, 1781, the headquarters of General Leslie were
at Sandy Run, Chester county, S.C. On the 18th, at Hillhouse's
plantation, in York county, he returns his thanks to the troops under
his command, and informs them that all orders in future will issue
from Lord Cornwallis and the Adjutant General. At eight o'clock at
night, Lord Cornwallis issues his orders to the army to march at eight
o'clock on the ensuing morning in the following order: 1. Yagers; 2.
Corps of Pioneers; 3. two three pounders; 4. Brigade Guards; 5.
Regiment of Bose; 6. North Carolina Volunteers; 7. two six pounders;
8. Lieutenant Colonel Webster's Brigade; 9. Wagons of the General; 10.
Field Officers' wagons; 11. Ammunition wagons; 12. Hospital wagons;
13. Regimental wagons; 14. Provision train; 15. Bat. horses; a
captain, two subalterns, and one hundred men from Col. Webster's
Brigade, to form a rear guard. On the 19th the army camped at Smith's
house, near the Cherokee Iron Works, on Broad river. On the 20th the
army camped at Saunder's plantation, on Buffalo creek. On the 23rd the
army crossed the North Carolina line, and camped at Tryon old Court
House, in the western part of the present county of Gaston. On the
24th the army arrived at Ramsour's Mill, near the present town of
Lincolnton. Here Cornwallis was compelled to remain three days to lay
in a supply of provisions for his large army. To accomplish this,
foraging parties were sent out in different directions to purchase all
the grain, of every kind, that could be procured. Ramsour's Mill,
surrounded with a guard of eight or ten men, was set to work, running
_day and night_, converting the grain into meal or flour.

General O'Hara camped at the "Reep place," two miles and a half
northwest of Ramsour's Mill. His forces crossed the South Fork, about
a mile above the bridge, on the public road leading to Rutherfordton.
Tarleton's cavalry crossed the same stream in "Cobb's bottom," passing
over the present site of Lincolnton, to form a junction with
Cornwallis. This small divergence from the direct line of travel, and
subsequent concentration at some designated point, was frequently made
by sections of the British army for the purpose of procuring supplies.

Lord Cornwallis, during his transitory stay, made his headquarters
nearly on the summit of the rising ground, two hundred and fifty yards
east of the Mill, on which had been fought the severe battle between
the Whigs, under Colonel Francis Locke, and the Tories, under
Lieutenant Colonel John Moore (son of Moses Moore), in which the
former were victorious.

Christian Reinhardt, one of the first German settlers of the county,
then lived near the base of the rising battle ground, and carried on a
tan-yard. He owned a valuable servant, named Fess, (contraction of
Festus,) whose whole _soul_ was exerted in making good _sole_ leather,
and upper too, for the surrounding country. This servant, greatly
attached to his kind master, was forced off, very much against his
will, by some of the British soldiery on their departure; but his
whereabouts having been found out, Adam Reep, and one or two other
noted Whigs, adroitly managed to recover him from the British camp, a
few days afterward, and restored him to his rightful owner.

The Marquee of Lord Cornwallis was placed near a a pine tree, still
standing on the battle ground, left there by the present owner of the
property, (W.M. Reinhardt, Esq., grand son of Christian Reinhardt,) in
clearing the land, as a memento of the past--where Royalty, for a
brief season, held undisputed sway, and feasted on the fat of the

Reliable tradition says that some of the British soldiery, while
encamped on the Ramsour battle ground, evinced a notable propensity
for depredating upon the savory poultry of the good old house-wife,
Mrs. Barbara Reinhardt--in other words, they showed a fondness for
procuring _fowl meat_ by _foul means_, in opposition to the principles
of honesty and good morals. As soon as the depredations were
discovered by Mrs. Reinhardt she immediately laid in her complaints at
head-quarters. Whereupon his lordship, placing greater stress upon the
sanctity of the eighth commandment than his loyal soldiers, promptly
replied, "Madam, you shall be protected," and accordingly had a guard
placed over her property until his departure.

Another incident relating to the advance of the British army is to the
following effect. As Tarleton's cavalry passed through the southern
part of Lincoln county (now Gaston) they rode up to the residence of
Benjamin Ormand, on the head-waters of Long Creek, and tied one of the
horses, which they had taken, to the top of a small white oak, growing
in his yard. This little Revolutionary _sapling_ is still living in
the serenity of a robust old age, and now measures, two feet from the
ground, _twenty-seven feet in circumference!_ Its branches extend all
around in different directions from forty to fifty feet, and the tree
is supposed to contain at least ten cords of wood.

When Tarleton's cavalry were on the point of leaving, they took the
blanket from the cradle in which James Ormand, the baby, was lying,
and used it as a saddle-blanket, and the large family Bible of
Benjamin Ormand was converted into a _saddle!!_

The Bible was afterward found near Beattie's Ford, on the Catawba
river, in the line of the British march, and restored to its proper
owner. Mr. Z.S. Ormand, a grandson of Benjamin Ormand, and a worthy
citizen of Gaston county, now lives at the old homestead, where the
Bible, considerably injured, can be seen at any time, as an abused
relic of the past, and invested with a most singular history.
Tarleton's cavalry also seized and carried off the bedding and
blankets in the house, and some of the cooking utensils in the

Mr. Ormand also informs the author that he frequently heard his
grandmother, who then lived near Steele Creek Church, say that she was
present at the great meeting at Charlotte, on the 20th of May, 1775,
and that she exhibited, on that occasion, _a quilt of her own
manufacture_. She said it was a large turn out of people from all
parts of the county, and was considered a suitable time for the _fair
sex_ to exhibit productions of their own hands.

Having replenished his commissary department as much as possible while
encamped on the Ramsour battleground, and having experienced too much
delay in his late march in consequence of the encumbrance of his
baggage, Cornwallis destroyed, before moving, all such as could be
regarded as superfluous. The baggage at head-quarters was first thrown
into the flames, thus converting the greater portion of his army into
light troops, with a view of renewing more rapidly the pursuit of
Morgan, or of forcing General Greene into an early action.

It is said "pewter plates" were freely distributed among some "loyal"
friends in the immediate vicinity, or thrown into the mill-pond; and
large numbers of very strong glass bottles, originally filled with
English ale, or _something stronger_, were broken to pieces on the
rocks, fragments of which may be seen scattered around at the present

Thus disencumbered, Cornwallis, early on the morning, of the 28th of
January, broke up camp and marched to the Catawba River, but finding
it much swollen, and rendered impassable in consequence of heavy rains
at its sources, he fell back to Forney's plantation, five miles from
the river. Jacob Forney was a thrifty, well-to-do farmer, and a
well-known Whig. The plantation is now (1876) owned by Willis E. Hall,
Esq. Here the British army lay encamped for three days, waiting for
the subsidence of the waters, and consumed, during that time, Forney's
entire stock of cattle, hogs, sheep and poultry, with all of which he
was well supplied. (For further particulars, see sketch of "Jacob
Forney, Sen.")

Having dried their powder, and laid in an additional supply of
provisions and forage, the British army was now prepared to renew more
actively the pursuit of Morgan.

On the evening before the marching of the main army, Colonel Webster
moved forward with the artillery, and a small detachment as a rear
guard, and took position at Beattie's Ford. This was a mere feint,
intended to create the impression that the whole British army would
cross there, as it was the most eligible pass, and thus elude the
vigilance of the Whigs.

At half-past two o'clock, on the morning of the 1st of February, 1781,
Cornwallis broke up his camp at Forney's plantation, and marched to a
private crossing-place known as Cowan's Ford, six miles below
Beattie's Ford. As he approached the river, a little before the dawn
of a cloudy, misty morning, numerous camp fires on the eastern bank
assured him his passage would be resisted; but General Davidson had
neglected to place his entire force, about three hundred and fifty in
number, near the ford, so as to present an imposing appearance. As it
was, only the companies of Captain Joseph Graham, and of two or three
other officers, probably not more than one third of the whole force on
duty, actually participated in the skirmish which immediately took
place; otherwise, the result might have been far more disastrous to
the British army.

The river at Cowan's Ford, for most of the distance across, has a very
rugged bottom, abounding with numerous rocks, of considerable size,
barely visible at the low water of summer time. With judicious
forethought, Cornwallis had hired the services of Frederick Hager, a
Tory, on the western bank, and, under his guidance, the bold Britons
plunged into the water, with the firm determination of encountering
the small band of Americans on the eastern bank.

Stedman, the English commissary and historian, who accompanied
Cornwallis in his Southern campaigns, thus speaks of the passage of
the river at Cowan's Ford:

     "The light infantry of the guards, led by Colonel Hall,
     first entered the water. They were followed by the
     grenadiers, and the grenadiers by the battalions, the men
     marching in platoons, to support one another against the
     rapidity of the stream. When the light infantry had nearly
     reached the middle of the river, they were challenged by one
     of the enemy's sentinels. The sentinel having challenged
     thrice, and receiving no answer, immediately gave the alarm
     by discharging his musket; and the enemy's pickets were
     turned out. No sooner did the guide (a Tory) who attended
     the light infantry to show them the ford, hear the report of
     the sentinel's musket than he turned around and left them.
     This, which at first, seemed to portend much mischief, in
     the end, proved a fortunate incident. Colonel Hall, being
     forsaken by his guide, and not knowing the true direction of
     the ford, led the column directly across the river to the
     nearest part of the opposite bank."

This direct course carried the British army to a new landing-place on
the eastern, or Mecklenburg side, so that they did not encounter a
full and concentrated fire from the Whigs. Upon hearing the firing,
General Davidson, who was stationed about half a mile from the ford,
(in the Lucas house, still standing,) with the greater portion of the
militia, hastened to the scene of conflict, evincing his
well-established bravery, but it was too late to change the issue of
the contest, and array any more effectual resistence. At this moment,
General Davidson arrived near the river, and in attempting to rally
the Whig forces for renewed action, received a fatal shot in the
breast, fell from his horse, and almost instantly expired. The few
patriots on the bank of the river nobly performed their duty, but had
soon to retreat before vastly superior numbers.

The British infantry waded the river, preceded by their Tory guide,
staff in hand, to show them the proper ford, and the statement made by
some historians that General Davidson was killed by this guide is not
corroborated by Stedman, the English historian; but, on the contrary,
he leaves us to infer that the American General met his death at the
hands of one of their own troops. The same authority states their own
loss to be Colonel Hall and three privates killed, and thirty-six
wounded. The horse of Lord Cornwallis was fatally shot and fell dead
just as he ascended the bank. The horse of General O'Hara, after
tumbling over the slippery rocks several times, producing a partial
submersion of his rider, finally reached the bank in safety. The
British reserved their fire until they reached the eastern shore, and
then pouring in two or three volleys into the ranks of the opposing
Whig forces, now considerably disconcerted, soon compelled them to
retreat with small loss.

Colonel Hall was buried on the edge of the alluvial land a short
distance below the crossing-place, with a head and foot stone of rock
from the adjoining hill, which were long visible and could be pointed
out by the nearest neighbors; but these were finally concealed from
view by successive overflows of sand from the swollen river. The
privates of both contending forces were buried on the rising ground,
near the scene of conflict, and with such haste on the part of the
British interring party as to leave one of their mattocks behind them
at the graves of their fallen comrades, eager to overtake the vigilant


(Condensed from Wheeler's "Historical Sketches.")

General Joseph Graham was born in Pennsylvania on the 13th of October,
1759. His mother being left a widow with five small children, and
slender means of support, removed to North Carolina when he was about
seven years of age, and settled in the neighborhood of Charlotte. He
received the principal part of his education at "Queen's Museum" in
Charlotte, (afterward called "Liberty Hall Academy,") and was
distinguished for his talents, industry and manly deportment. His
thirst for knowledge led him at an early period to become well
acquainted with all those interesting and exciting events which
preceded our Revolutionary struggle. He was present in Charlotte on
the 20th of May, 1775, when the first Declaration of Independence was
formally and publicly made. The deep impression made upon his mind by
the solemn and illustrious decisions of that day gave good evidence
that he was then preparing for the noble stand which he took during
the war.

He enlisted in the army of the United States in May, 1778, at the age
of nineteen years. He served in the Fourth Regiment of North Carolina
regular troops, under Col. Archibald Lytle, acting as an officer in
Captain Gooden's company. The troops to which he was attached were
ordered to rendezvous at Bladensburg, Md. Having marched as far as
Caswell county they received intelligence of the battle of Monmouth,
when he returned home on a furlough.

He again entered the service on the 5th of November, 1778, and marched
under General Rutherford to Purysburg, on the Savannah river, soon
after the defeat of Gen. Ashe at Brier Creek. He was with the troops
under Gen. Lincoln, and fought in the battle of Stono, against Gen.
Prevost, on the 20th of June, 1779, which lasted one hour and twenty
minutes. During nearly the whole of this campaign he acted as
quartermaster. In July, 1779, he was taken with the fever, and after
two months' severe illness was discharged near Dorchester, and
returned home.

After the surrender of Charleston, and defeat of Col. Bufort at the
Waxhaw, he again entered the service as adjutant of the Mecklenburg
Regiment, and spent the summer in opposing the advance of Lord Rawdon
into North Carolina, and assailing his troops, then within forty miles
of Charlotte.

When it was understood that the British were marching to Charlotte he
was ordered by General Davidson to repair to that place, and take
command of such a force as he could readily collect, and join Col.
Davie. _About midnight_ of the 25th of September, 1780, Col. Davie
reached Charlotte. On the next day the British army entered Charlotte,
and received such a _stinging_ reception as to cause Lord Cornwallis
to designate the place as the "Hornets' Nest of America." After a
well-directed fire upon the British from the Court House to the gum
tree, Gen. Graham, with the troops assigned to his command, retreated,
opposing Tarleton's cavalry and a regiment of infantry for four miles
on the Salisbury road. On the plantation formerly owned by Joseph
McConnaughey, he again formed his men, and attacked the advancing
British infantry. After again retreating, he formed on the hill above
where Sugar Creek Church now stands. There, owing to the imprudent but
honest zeal of Major White, they were detained too long, for by the
time they had reached the crossroads a party of British dragoons were
in sight, and, after close pursuit for nearly two miles, overtook
them. It was at this time that Lieut. George Locke, a brother of Col.
Francis Locke, of Rowan county, was killed at the margin of a small
pond, now to be seen at the end of Alexander Kennedy's lane. Between
that spot and where James A. Houston now lives, Gen. Graham was cut
down and severely wounded. He received nine wounds, six with the saber
and three from musket balls. His life was narrowly and mercifully
preserved by a large stock buckle which broke the violence of the
stroke. He received four deep gashes of the saber over his head and
one in his side; and three balls were afterward removed from his body.
After being much exhausted by loss of blood, he reached the house of
the late Mrs. Susannah Alexander, where he was kindly nursed and
watched during the night, and his wounds dressed as well as
circumstances would permit. On the next day he reached his mother's
residence, where the late Major Bostwick resided, and from that place
transferred to the hospital in Charlotte.

Thus, at the tender age of twenty-one years, we see this gallant young
officer leading a band of as brave men as ever faced a foe, to guard
the ground first consecrated by the Mecklenburg Declaration of
Independence, leaving his blood as the best memorial of a righteous
cause, and of true heroism in its defence.

As soon as he recovered from his wounds, he again entered the service
of his country. Gen. Davidson, who had command of all the militia in
the western counties of the State, applied to him to raise one or more
companies, promising him such rank as the number of men raised would
justify. Through his great energy, perseverance and influence he
succeeded in raising a company of fifty-five men in two weeks. These
were mounted riflemen, armed also with swords, and some with pistols.

They supplied themselves with their own horses and necessary
equipments, and entered the field without commissary or quartermaster,
and with every prospect of hard fighting, and little compensation.
After Tarleton's signal defeat at the Cowpens, Cornwallis resolved to
pursue Gen. Morgan, encumbered with upwards of five hundred prisoners.
At that time Gen. Greene had assumed command of the southern army, and
stationed himself with a portion of it at Hicks' Creek, near to
Cheraw. After Gen. Morgan's successful retreat, Gen. Greene left his
main army with Gen. Huger, and rode one hundred and fifty miles to
join Gen. Morgan's detachment near the Catawba river. The plan of
opposing Lord Cornwallis in crossing the Catawba was arranged by Gen.
Greene, and its execution assigned to Gen. Davidson. Lieutenant Col.
Webster moved forward and crossed the Catawba in advance with a
detachment of cavalry co create the impression that the whole British
army would cross there, but the real intention of Cornwallis was to
make the attempt at Cowan's Ford. Soon after the action commenced,
Gen. Davidson was killed, greatly lamented by all who knew him as a
brave and generous officer. The company commanded by Gen. Graham
commenced the attack upon the British as they advanced through the
river, and resolutely kept it up until they ascended the bank. The
British then poured in a heavy fire upon Graham's men, two of whom
were killed. Col. William Polk and Rev. T.H. McCaule were near Gen.
Davidson when he fell. Col. Hall and three or four of the British were
killed and upwards of thirty wounded. The British were detained here
about three hours in burying their dead and then resumed their march
in pursuit of Gen. Morgan.

The body of General Davidson was secured by David Wilson and Richard
Barry, conveyed to the house of Samuel Wilson, Sen., there dressed for
burial, and interred that night in the graveyard of Hopewell Church.

The North Carolina militia were then placed under the command of
General Pickens, of South Carolina, and continued to harass the
British as they advanced toward Virginia. General Graham with his
company, and some troops from Rowan county, surprised and captured a
guard at Hart's Mill, one mile and a-half from Hillsboro, where the
British army then lay, and the same day joined Colonel Lee's forces.
On the next day, under General Pickens, he was in the action against
Colonel Pyles, who commanded about three hundred and fifty Tories on
their way to join Tarleton. These Tories supposed the Whigs to be a
company of British troops sent for their protection, and commenced
crying, "God save the King." Tarleton was about a mile from this
place, and retreated to Hillsboro. Shortly afterward General Graham
was in an engagement under Colonel Lee, at Clapp's Mill, on the
Alamance, and had two of his company killed, three wounded and two
made prisoners. Again, a few days afterward, he was in the action at
Whitsell's Mill, under Colonel Washington. As the term of service of
his men had expired, and the country was annoyed with Tories, General
Greene directed him to return with his company and keep them in a
compact body until they crossed the Yadkin, which they did on the 14th
of March, 1781.

After the battle of Guilford the British retired to Wilmington, and
but little military service was performed in North Carolina during the
summer of 1781. About the 1st of September Fannin surprised Hillsboro
and took Governor Burke prisoner. General Rutherford, who had been
taken prisoner at Gates' defeat, was set at liberty, and returned home
about this time. He immediately gave orders to General Graham, in
whose military prowess and influence he placed great confidence, to
raise a troop of cavalry in Mecklenburg county. These troops of
dragoons, and about two hundred mounted infantry, were raised and
formed into a legion, over which Robert Smith was made Colonel and
General Graham Major. They immediately commenced their march toward
Wilmington. South of Fayetteville, with ninety-six dragoons and forty
mounted infantry, made a gallant and successful attack against a body
of Tories commanded by the noted Tory Colonels, McNeil, Ray, Graham
and McDougal. This action took place near McFalls' Mill, on the Raft
swamp, in which the Tories were signally defeated, their leaders
dispersed, and their cause greatly damaged. In this spirited
engagement one hundred and thirty-six Whigs opposed and vanquished six
hundred Tories, reflecting great credit upon the bravery and military
sagacity of General Graham.

A short time afterward he commanded one troop of dragoons and two of
mounted infantry, and defeated a band of Tories on Alfred Moore's
plantation, opposite Wilmington. On the next day he led the troops in
person, and attacked the British garrison near the same place. Shortly
afterward he commanded three companies in defeating Colonel Gagny,
near Waccamaw lake. This campaign closed General Graham's services in
the Revolutionary war, having commanded in fifteen engagements with a
degree of courage, wisdom, calmness and success, surpassed, perhaps,
by no officer of the same rank.

Hundreds who served under him have delighted in testifying to the
upright, faithful, and undaunted manner in which he discharged the
duties of his trying and responsible station. Never was he known to
shrink from any toil, however painful, or quail before any danger,
however threatening, or stand back from any privations or sacrifices
which might serve his country. After the close of the war he was
elected the first Sheriff of Mecklenburg county, and gave great
satisfaction by the faithful performance of the duties of that office.
From 1788 to 1794 he was elected to the Senate from the same county.
About the year 1787 he was married to Isabella, the second daughter of
Major John Davidson. By this marriage he had twelve children. Not long
after his marriage he removed to Lincoln county and engaged in the
manufacture of iron. For more than forty years before his death he
conducted a large establishment of iron works with great energy and

In 1814 General Graham commanded a Regiment of North Carolina
Volunteers against the Creek Indians, and arrived about the time the
last stroke of punishment was inflicted upon this hostile tribe by
General Jackson, at the battle of the Horse Shoe. For many years after
the war he was Major General of the 5th Division of the North Carolina
Militia. By a life of temperance and regular exercise, with the
blessing of God, he enjoyed remarkable health and vigor of

On the 13th of October, 1836, he made the following minute in his
day-book: "This day I am seventy-seven years of age, _Dei Gratia_." He
rode from Lincolnton on the 10th of November, soon thereafter was
struck with apoplexy, and on the evening of the 12th closed his eyes
upon the cares and trials of a long, useful and honorable life.

General Joseph Graham was the father of the late Ex-Governor William
A. Graham, one of North Carolina's most worthy, honorable, and
illustrious sons.


(Condensed from Wheeler's "Historical Sketches.")

The Brevard family acted a very conspicuous part during our
Revolutionary war. The first one of the name of whom anything is known
was a Huguenot who fled from France on the revocation of the edict of
Nantes in 1685, and settled among the Scotch-Irish in the northern
part of Ireland. He there formed the acquaintance of a family of
McKnitts, and with them set sail for the American shores. One of this
family was a young and blooming lassie, "very fair to look upon."
Brevard and herself soon discovered in each other kindred spirits, and
a mutual attachment sprung up between them. They joined their
fortunes, determined to share the hardships and trials incident to a
settlement in a new country, then filled with wild beasts and savages.
They settled on Elk river, in Maryland. The issue of this marriage
were five sons and one daughter; John, Robert, Zebulon, Benjamin,
Adam, and Elizabeth. The three elder brothers, with their sister and
her husband, came to North Carolina between 1740 and 1750. The three
brothers were all Whigs during the Revolution. John Brevard, whose
family is the immediate subject of this sketch, married a sister of
Dr. Alexander McWhorter, a distinguished Presbyterian minister from
New Jersey, who had for a time the control of Queen's Museum in
Charlotte. Soon after his marriage, Brevard also emigrated to North
Carolina, and settled about two miles from Center Church, in Iredell
county. Dr. McWhorter was a very zealous Whig, and it is said the
British were anxious to seize him on account of his independent
addresses, both in and out of the pulpit. But they failed in their
endeavors, and, after the invasion of Charlotte by Cornwallis in 1780,
he returned to the North.

At the commencement of the Revolutionary war, John Brevard, then an
old and infirm man, had eight sons and four daughters, Mary, Ephraim,
John, Hugh, Adam, Alexander, Robert, Benjamin, Nancy, Joseph, Jane and
Rebecca. He was a well known and influential Whig, and early instilled
his patriotic principles into the minds of his children. When the
British army under Cornwallis passed near his residence a squad of
soldiers went to his house and burned every building on the premises
to the ground. No one was at home at the time except his wife, then
quite old and infirm, the daughters having been sent to a neighboring
house across a swamp to preserve them from any indignities that might
be offered to them by a base soldiery. When the soldiers came up a
self-authorized officer drew a paper from his pocket, and after
looking at it for a moment said, "these houses must be burned." They
were accordingly set on fire. Mrs. Brevard attempted to save some
articles of furniture from the flames, but the soldiers would throw
them back as fast as she could take them out Everything in the house
was consumed. The reason assigned by the soldiery for this incendiary
act was she then had "eight sons in the rebel army."

Mary, the eldest daughter of John Brevard, married Gen. Davidson who
was killed at Cowan's Ford on the Catawba river.

Nancy married John Davidson. They were both killed by the Indians at
the head of the Catawba river. Jane married Ephraim, a brother of John
Davidson. Though very young, he was sent by Gen. Davidson, on the
night before the skirmish at Cowan's Ford, with an express to Col,
Morgan, warning him of the approach of the British forces.

Rebecca married a Jones and moved to Tennessee.

Ephraim Brevard, the eldest son, married a daughter of Col. Thomas
Polk. After a course of preparatory studies he went to Princeton
College. Having graduated, he pursued a course of medical studies and
settled as a physician in Charlotte. Being highly educated, and
possessed of a superior mind, and agreeable manner, he exerted a
commanding influence over the youthful patriots of that day. In the
language of Dr. Foote, "he thought clearly; felt deeply; wrote well;
resisted bravely, and died a martyr to that liberty none loved better,
and few understood so well." (For further particulars respecting Dr.
Brevard, see Sketches of the Signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration.)

_John Brevard, Jr._, served in the Continental Army with the
commission of Lieutenant, displaying, on all occasions, unflinching
bravery and a warm devotion to the cause of American freedom.

_Hugh Brevard_, with several brothers, was at the battle of Ramsour's
Mill. Early in the war he was appointed a Colonel of the militia, and
was present at the defeat of General Ashe at Brier Creek. He settled
in Burke county, and was elected a member of the Legislature in 1780
and 1781, was held in high esteem by his fellow citizens, and died
about the close of the war.

_Adam Brevard_ first served one year in the Northern Army under
General Washington. He then came South, and was present at the battle
of Ramsour's Mill. He there had a button shot from his pantaloons, but
escaped unharmed. He was a blacksmith by trade, and, after the war
followed this occupation for a considerable length of time. Being fond
of reading he studied law in his shop, when not much pressed with
business, and found a greater delight in the law-telling _strokes_ of
a Blackstone than in the hard-ringing strokes of a blacksmith's
hammer. He finally abandoned his trade and engaged in the practice of
the law, in which he was successful. He was a man of strong intellect,
sound judgment, and keen observation. He wrote a piece called the
"Mecklenburg Censor," abounding with sarcastic wit and well-timed
humor, making him truly the "learned blacksmith" of Mecklenburg

_Alexander Brevard_ first joined the army as a cadet. He then received
the commission of Lieutenant, and soon afterward that of Captain in
the Continental Army. He was engaged in the battles of White Plains,
Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, Monmouth, and Germanton, and remained
in the Northern Army under General Washington until some time in the
year 1779, when, his health failing, he was sent into the country.
After a short absence he reported himself for service to Gen.
Washington. This illustrious and humane commander, seeing his slender
figure and delicate appearance, remarked that he was unfit for hard
service, and enquired of him where his parents lived. The reply was,
in North Carolina. Gen. Washington then advised him to return home.
With this advice he complied, and his health, in the meantime, having
improved in the genial climate of Western North Carolina, he
immediately joined the Southern Army under General Gates. Being a
Captain in the regular service, and removed from his command, he was
appointed quartermaster, and acted as such at the battle of Camden.
After the defeat of Gen. Gates, the Southern Army was placed under the
command of Gen. Greene. Alexander Brevard was with this gallant
commander in all his battles; so that, with little interruption, he
was in active service _from the beginning to the end of the war_. He
thought his hardest fighting was at the Eutaw Springs. He was there in
command of his company, and in the hottest part of the fight, losing
eighteen of his brave men. At one time he and his company were in a
very critical situation. A division of the British army came very
unexpectedly upon their rear while they were closely engaged in front;
but, just at that moment, Col. Washington, perceiving their imminent
danger, made an impetuous charge with his cavalry upon this division
of the enemy. A portion of his men broke through, and formed again
with the intention of renewing the charge. This was prevented by the
retreat of the British into a position where it was impossible for the
cavalry to pursue them.

Colonel Washington was unhorsed and made a prisoner, but succeeded
with his brave men in preventing the meditated attack in the rear.
Brevard had not observed this division of the enemy, and the first
thing he saw was the flying caps and tumbling horses of the cavalry as
they made their dashing charge upon them. This was the last important
battle in which Capt. Brevard was engaged, fought on the 8th of
September, 1781, and near the close of the war. On all occasions he
maintained an unflagging zeal and promptitude of action in achieving
the independence of his country, and evincing a persistent bravery
unsurpassed in the annals of the American Revolution.

After the war Captain Brevard married Rebecca, a daughter of Major
John Davidson, one of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration.
Major Davidson suggested to himself and General Joseph Graham, another
son-in-law, the propriety of entering into the manufacture of iron.
They readily approved of the suggestion and went over into Lincoln
county. There they found General Peter Forney in possession of a
valuable iron ore bank. With him they formed a copartnership and
erected Vesuvius Furnace on the public road from Beattie's Ford to
Lincolnton--at present known as Smith's Furnace. After operating for a
time altogether, Forney withdrew. Davidson and Brevard then left
Graham in the management of Vesuvius Furnace, and built Mount Tirzah
Forge, now known as Brevard's Forge. The sons-in-law shortly afterward
bought out Davidson, and finally they dissolved. Brevard then built a
furnace on Leeper's Creek, above Mount Tirzah Forge, and continued in
the iron business until his death.

Captain Brevard, being of a retiring disposition, never sought
political favor, but preferred to discharge his obligations to his
country rather by obeying than by making her laws. His manners were
frank and candid, and the more intimately he was known the better was
he beloved. The dishonest met his searching eye with dread, but the
industrious and the honest ever found in him a kind adviser and
beneficent assistant. Long will he be remembered as a pure man, a
faithful friend, and an upright citizen, conscientious in the
discharge of all his obligations and in the performance of all his
duties. He was for many years, a worthy elder in the Presbyterian
Church, and died, as he had lived, a true christian, and with humble
resignation, on the 1st of November, 1829, in the seventy-fifth year
of his age. His mortal remains repose in a private cemetery, selected
by General Graham and himself as a family burying ground, and near
which has lately been built the church of Macpelah. He left seven
children--Ephraim, Franklin, Harriet, Robert, Joseph, Theodore and
Mary. Franklin and Joseph represented, at different times, the county
of Lincoln in the State Legislature.

_Joseph Brevard_, the youngest son of John Brevard,  Sen., at the
youthful age of seventeen, held the commission of Lieutenant in the
Continental army. His brother Alexander said he was at that time quite
small and delicate, and that he always pitied him when it was his turn
to mount guard. General ----, who was in command at Philadelphia,
discovering that he wrote a pretty hand, appointed him his private
secretary. In this position he remained until he received the
commission of Lieutenant in the Southern army, which he held until the
close of the war. After the war he studied law, and settled in Camden,
S.C., where he took a high stand both as a lawyer and a citizen. After
filling several offices of public trust, he was elected one of the
Judges, which position he occupied with distinguished honor.

After a few years he resigned his Judgeship, and was twice elected to
Congress from his district. He made a Digest of the Statute Laws of
South Carolina, and also left one or two volumes of cases reported by
himself. These books, particularly the latter, are still referred to
as good legal authority. He died in Camden, and has left a name
cherished and honored by all those who remember his numerous virtues.

Such is a brief and imperfect sketch of that family whose name is
prefixed. Many events, of thrilling interest, connected with their
revolutionary services, have, no doubt, sunk into oblivion; but enough
has been presented to stimulate the rising generation to imitate their
heroic example and admire their unfaltering devotion to the cause of
American freedom.


Col. James Johnston, one of the earliest patriots of "Tryon,"
afterward Lincoln county, was born about the year 1742. His father,
Henry Johnston, was of Scottish descent. During the many civil and
ecclesiastical troubles which greatly agitated England preceding the
ascent of William, Prince of Orange, to the throne in 1688, and the
ruinous consequences of the defeat of Charles Edward, the "Pretender,"
at the battle of Culloden, in April, 1746, a constant tide of
emigration was flowing from Scotland to the northern part of Ireland,
or directly to the shores of the New World, then holding forth to the
disturbed population of Europe peculiar features of attractiveness,
accompanied with the most alluring prospects of future aggrandizement
and wealth. Among the families who passed over during this period were
some of the extensive clan of Johnstons (frequently spelled
_Johnstone_); also, the Alexanders, Ewarts, Bells, Knoxes, Barnetts,
Pattons, Wilsons, Spratts, Martins, with a strong sprinkling of the
Davidsons, Caldwells, Grahams, Hunters, Polks, and many others whose
descendants performed a magnanimous part in achieving our
independence, and stand high on the "roll of fame" and exalted worth.

The name Johnston in Scotland embraces many distinguished personages
in every department of literature. From one of the families who came
directly to America in 1722 ("Lord William Johnston") have descended
in different branches, the late General Albert Sidney Johnston and
General Joseph E. Johnston--illustrious, patriotic names the Southern
people and a disinterested posterity will ever delight to honor.

The Johnstons in their native "land o'cakes and brither Scots," had
the reputation of being "heady," strong-minded, proud of their
ancestral descent, and were regarded, at times, as being rather
"rebellious"--a trait of character which, in this last respect, some
of their descendants strongly manifested in the late Confederate
struggle, but in accordance with the most honorable and patriotic

When Henry Johnston and his youthful wife settled on the western banks
of the Catawba river, the country was then covered with its native
forests, and over its wide expanse of territory, as yet but little
disturbed by the implements of husbandry, the Indians and wild beasts
held almost undisputed sway. The uplands were clothed with wild "pea
vines," and other luxuriant herbage, and cattle literally roamed over
and fed upon a "thousand hills." Every water course, too, bristled
with cane-brakes, indicating the great fertility of the soil, and the
sure road, under proper industrial efforts, to agricultural

In the absence of family records we are left to infer Col. Johnston
grew up to manhood, receiving as good an education as his own limited
means and the opportunities of societies then afforded. It was then a
gloomy period in our history. In 1765 the Stamp Act had been passed,
which agitated the American Colonies from one extremity to the other.
The dark cloud of discontent hung heavily over our people, too truly
foreboding the storm of open rupture, and approaching revolution.
During this exciting period he imbibed those patriotic principles,
which, in subsequent years, governed his actions, and prepared him to
cast in his lot, and heartily unite with those who pledged "their
lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor" in the cause of
American freedom. He emphatically belonged to that class of ardent
young men of the Revolutionary period

    "Whose deeds were cast in manly mold,
    For hardy sports or contest bold."

Tradition speaks of the wife of Henry Johnston as dying comparatively
young, leaving two children--James, the immediate subject of this
sketch, and Mary--who married Moses Scott, settled near Goshen Church,
in the present county of Gaston, and there ended her days. Moses Scott
had three children--James J., William and Abram Scott. Of these sons,
James Johnston Scott married in 1803, Mary, a daughter of Captain
Robert Alexander, a soldier of the Revolution, and of extensive
usefulness. He (James) died in 1809, in the twenty seventh year of his
age, leaving two children--Abram and Mary Scott, the former of whom in
this Centennial year (1876) still survives, having nearly completed
his "three-score years and ten."

Col. Johnston first entered the service as Captain of a company, in
the winter of 1776, Col. William Graham commanding, against a large
body of Tories in the northwestern section of South Carolina. This
expedition is known in history as the "Snow Campaign," from the
unusually heavy snow, of that winter, and, in conjunction with the
troops of that State, drove the Tory commanders, Cunningham and
Fletcher, from the siege of the post of Ninety Six. On the retreat of
these Tory leaders they surprised and defeated them with a loss of
four hundred of their followers. The reader may be curious to know the
origin of the name "Ninety Six" applied to this post, now constituting
the village of Cambridge, in Abbeville county. It was so called
because it was ninety-six miles from the frontier fort, Prince George,
on Keowee river, in the present county of Pickens. No portion of South
Carolina suffered more during the Revolution than the district around
Ninety-Six. The Tories were numerous, bold and vindictive, and for
that reason the gallant Whigs of that region frequently called upon
their compatriots-in-arms in North Carolina, more particularly in
Mecklenburg, Lincoln and Burke counties, for assistance in defending
their homes and their property.

In this same year (1776) Gen. Rutherford called out a strong force of
infantry and cavalry from Mecklenburg, Rowan, Tryon, (afterwards
Lincoln), and other western counties to subdue the "Over-hill"
Cherokee Indians, who were committing numerous depredations, and
occasionally murdering the inhabitants on the frontier settlements. At
that time the "Blue Ridge" constituted the bounds of organized
civilization. The expedition, commanded by Gen. Rutherford, was
completely successful, the Indians were routed, their towns destroyed,
and a considerable number killed and made prisoners. Nothing short of
this severe chastisement of the Indians for their depredations and
murders would serve to teach them of the supremacy of the white man,
and cause them to sue for peace. On this occasion many of the western
patriots experienced their first essay in arms, and learned something
of the toils and dangers of the soldier's life.

During the war several expeditions were sent from the border counties
of North Carolina to assist in pulling down the Tory ascendancy of the
disaffected portion of upper South Carolina. In one of these
expeditions Col. Johnston experienced an adventure--a passage at arms,
which, as an incident of the war and characteristic of his bravery, is
here worthy of narration. On Pacolet river, near the place where the
late Dr. Bivings erected a factory, Col. Johnston, in a skirmish, had
a personal rencontre with Patrick Moore, a Tory officer, whom he
finally overpowered and captured. In the contest he received several
sword cuts on his head, and on the thumb of the right hand. As he was
bearing his prisoner to the Whig lines, a short distance off, he was
rapidly approached by several British troopers. He then immediately
attempted to discharge his loaded musket against his assailants, but
unfortunately it _missed fire_, in consequence of blood flowing from
his wounded thumb and wetting the _priming_. This misfortune on his
part enabled his prisoner to escape; and, perceiving his own dangerous
and armless position, he promptly availed himself of a friendly
thicket at his side, eluded his pursuers and soon afterwards joined
his command.

On the 14th of June, 1780, Gen. Rutherford, whilst encamped near
Charlotte, received intelligence that the Tories under Col. John Moore
had assembled in strong force at Ramsour's Mill, near the present town
of Lincolnton. He immediately issued orders to Col. Francis Locke, of
Rowan; to Major David Wilson, of Mecklenburg, and other officers, to
use every exertion to raise a sufficient number of men to attack the
Tories at that place. On the 17th of June Gen. Rutherford marched from
his encampment, two miles south of Charlotte, to the Tuckasege Ford,
on the Catawba. He had previously dispatched an express to Col. Locke,
advising him of his movement, and ordered him to join his army on the
19th or morning of the 20th of June, a few miles beyond that ford. The
express, in some unaccountable way, miscarried. The morning of the
19th being wet, Gen. Rutherford did not cross the river until evening
and encamped three miles beyond on Col. Dickson's plantation. Whilst
there, waiting for Col. Locke's arrival, in obedience to the express,
he received a notice from that officer, then encamped at Mountain
Creek, informing him of his intention of attacking the Tories on the
next morning at sunrise, and requested his co-operation. This notice
was delivered to Gen. Rutherford by Col. Johnston at 11 o'clock of the
night of the 19th of June, being selected for that duty by Col. Locke
on account of his personal knowledge of the intervening country and
undaunted courage. Col. Locke's encampment was then sixteen miles from
Ramsour's Mill. Late in the evening of the same day, and soon after
the departure of Col. Johnston to Gen. Rutherford's camp, Col. Locke
marched with his forces, less than four hundred in number, stopped a
short time in the night for rest and consultation, and arrived within
a mile of Ramsour's at daylight without being observed by the Tories.
The battle soon commenced by the mounted companies of Captains Falls,
McDowell and Brandon. The Tories at first fought with considerable
bravery, driving back the Whig cavalry. These, however, soon rallied,
and, being supported by the advancing infantry, pressed forward under
their gallant leaders with a courage which knew no faltering and
completely routed the Tories, driving them, after an hour's contest,
from their strong position, and capturing about fifty of their number.
This victory, occurring soon after the surrender of Charleston, when
the Tories had become bold and menacing in their conduct, greatly
cheered the Whigs throughout the entire South, animated them with
fresh hopes, and nerved them on to future deeds of "noble daring."

Gen. Rutherford, not leaving his encampment at Col. Dickson's before
daylight of the morning of the 20th of June, failed to reach Ramsour's
Mill until two hours after the battle. Col. Johnston there joined his
command, and participated in the closing duties of this victorious
engagement in the cause of American freedom.

At the battle of King's Mountain Col. Johnston commanded the reserves,
about ninety in number, which were soon called into service after the
battle commenced. The decisive and brilliant victory of that memorable
day has been so frequently adverted to in history that it is deemed
here unnecessary to enter into particulars. Suffice it to say, it
completely broke down the Tory influence in Western North Carolina,
and its more rampant manifestations in upper South Carolina. It is
known that Cornwallis, then in Charlotte, in a few days after hearing
of the defeat and death of Ferguson, one of his bravest officers,
marched from that rebellious town in the night and hastily retreated
to safer quarters in Winnsboro, S.C.

During the progress of the war Col. Johnston was frequently engaged in
other minor expeditions, requiring promptitude of action and
unflinching bravery, in assisting to disperse bodies of Tories
wherever they might assemble, and arrest obnoxious individuals when
the peace and welfare of society demanded such service.

At the Provincial Congress which met at Halifax on the 4th of April,
1776, Colonel James Johnston and Colonel Charles McLean were the
delegates from Tryon county. Colonel McLean was an early and devoted
friend of liberty. He resided on the headwaters of Crowder's creek, in
the present county of Gaston, and commanded the first regiment which
marched from Lincoln county against the Tories of upper South
Carolina. This Provincial Congress was one of the most important ever
held in the State. The spirit of liberty was then in the ascendant,
animating every patriotic bosom from the sea coast to the mountains.
At this assembly the military organization of the State was completed,
and the following patriotic resolution unanimously adopted:

     "_Resolved_, That the Delegates from this Colony in the
     Continental Congress be empowered to concur with the
     Delegates from the other colonies in declaring independence
     and forming foreign alliances, reserving to this colony the
     sole and exclusive right of forming a constitution and laws
     for this colony."

This early action of the Provincial Congress of North Carolina is the
first public declaration, by proper legislative State authority, on
record, preceding the Virginia resolutions of the same character by
more than a month, and of those of the National Congress at
Philadelphia by nearly three months, now exulting in its _centennial
celebration_. Near the close of the Revolution Col. Johnston acted for
a considerable length of time as disbursing agent for the Western
Division of the army. After the division of Tryon county in 1779 into
Lincoln and Rutherford counties, he was elected to the Senate from the
former county in 1780, '81 and '82. He also acted, for many years, as
one of the magistrates of the county, and, by virtue of his office,
was frequently called upon "_to make of twain one flesh_ in the holy
bonds of matrimony."

Major John Davidson, who knew Col. Johnston long and well, always
summed up his estimate of his character by saying, "he was a most
excellent man, and never shrunk from the performance of any duty when
the welfare of his country demanded such service."

Several years previous to the Revolution Colonel Johnston married Jane
Ewart, eldest daughter of Robert Ewart, a most worthy lady of
Scotch-Irish descent. In 1775 Robert Ewart was appointed with Griffith
Rutherford, John Brevard, Hezekiah Alexander, Benjamin Patton, and
others, one of the Committee of Safety for the "Salisbury District,"
which included Rowan, Mecklenburg and other western counties. The
marriage connections of other members of the Ewart family were as
follows: Margaret married Joseph Jack; Mary married Robert Knox;
Rachel married Thomas Bell; Betsy married Jonathan Price; Sallie
married Thomas Hill; Robert married Margaret Adams. At the battle of
King's Mountain Robert Ewart, James Ewart, Robert Knox, Joseph Jack,
Thomas Bell, Jonathan Price, Abram Forney, Peter Forney, and other
brave spirits, were in the company commanded by Colonel James
Johnston, and performed a conspicuous part in achieving the glorious
victory on that occasion.

Previous to the war Colonel Johnston purchased valuable land on the
Catawba river, one mile southwest of Toole's Ford, which became known
in subsequent years as "Oak Grove" farm, deriving this name from
several, native denizens of the forest which stood near the family
mansion and cast around their beneficent shade. Here he was blest with
a numerous offspring, and permitted to enjoy much of that dignified
ease and pleasures of a quiet home-life which his patriotic services
had assisted to procure. For many years preceding his death he was a
consistent member and Ruling Elder of the Presbyterian church at
Unity, in Lincoln county. His large experience, general intelligence,
disinterested benevolence, unsullied integrity and great decision of
character, all combined to make him eminently useful in the different
relations of society and secure for him the high regard and esteem of
all who knew him.

Colonel Johnston died with calm resignation on the 23rd of July, 1805,
aged about sixty-three years. His wife died on the 17th of August,
1795; and both, with other members of the family, are buried in a
private cemetery on the "Oak Grove" farm.


Col. James Johnston (sketch of his life and services previously given)
married Jane Ewart, an estimable lady, daughter of Robert Ewart, of
Scotch-Irish descent, and one of the early patriots of Mecklenburg
county. Their descendants were, first generation:

1. Robert Johnston, who married Mary M, daughter of Capt. John Reid, a
soldier of the Revolution, a Senator from Lincoln county in 1810 and
1811, and again in 1817 and 1818, and former proprietor of the Catawba
Springs. He raised a family of twelve children, all of whom attained
the age of maturity and survived their parents. The first death in the
family was that of the late Rufus M. Johnston, of Charlotte. He was an
industrious farmer, and upright member of society; for many years an
elder of the Presbyterian church at Unity, and died with peaceful
resignation on the 23rd of May, 1854, in the seventy-seventh year of
his age. His wife, Mary died on the 30th of July, 1857, and both are
buried in a private cemetery on the old homestead property, now owned
by their grandson, John R. Johnston, Esq. His descendants were, 2d

1. Sarah Johnston married Dr. Benjamin Johnson, of Virginia.

2. James A. Johnston married Jane Byers, of Iredell county.

3. Dr. Sidney X. Johnston married Harriet K. Connor, of Lincoln

4. Jane Johnston married first, John D. Graham, second, Dr. William B.
McLean, of Lincoln county.

5. John R. Johnston married first, Delia Torrence, second, Laura E.
Happoldt, of Burke county.

6. Robert Johnston married Caroline Shuford, of Lincoln county.

7. Dr. Thos. Johnston married Dorcas Luckey, of Mecklenburg county.

8. Harriet Johnston married William T. Shipp, of Gaston county.

9. Mary Johnston married Dr. William Davidson, of Mecklenburg county.

10. Martha Johnston married Col. J.B. Rankin, of McDowell county.

11. Col. William Johnston, present Mayor (1876) of Charlotte, married
Ann Graham, of Mecklenburg county.

12. Rufus M. Johnston married Cecilia Latta, of York county, S.C.

2d. Margaret Ewart Johnston married Logan Henderson, Esq., youngest
son of James Henderson, who moved from Pennsylvania to North Carolina
at the first settlement of the country. He was the brother of Major
Lawson Henderson, long and well known as one of the worthy citizens of
Lincoln county, and of Col. James Henderson, a brave officer killed at
the battle of New Orleans. The patriarchal ancestor, James Henderson,
became the owner of a large body of land on the south fork of the
Catawba river, in the present county of Gaston, embracing a valuable
water-power, at which he erected a grist mill, then a new and useful
institution. He lived to an extreme old age, and is buried on a high
eminence near the eastern bank of the river, where a substantial stone
wall surrounds the graves of himself, Adam Springs, the next owner of
the property, and a few others.

In 1818, Logan Henderson joined the tide of emigration to Tennessee,
and purchased much valuable land near Murfreesboro, in Rutherford
county. In and near his last place of settlement, where most of his
worthy descendants still reside. He died, after a brief illness, with
calm composure, on the 8th of December, 1846, in the sixty-second year
of his age. His wife survived him many years, and died with peaceful
resignation on the 13th of August, 1863, in the seventy-fifth year of
her age.

Their descendants were, second generation:

1. James F. Henderson married Amanda M. Vorhees, of Tennessee.

2. Violet C. Henderson married William F. Lytle, of Tennessee.

3. Jane E. Henderson married William S. Moore, of Tennessee.

The remaining children of Col. James Johnston were:

4. James Johnston, Jr., a promising young man, died near the age of
maturity, in 1816, without issue.

5. Henry Johnston died in 1818 without issue.

6. Martha Johnston married Dr. James M. Burton.
Soon after marriage they moved to Georgia, where they both died
without issue.

7. Jane Johnston married Rev. John Williamson, pastor of Hopewell
church, in Mecklenburg county, and died in 1817 without issue.

8. Catharine Johnston married John Hayes, Esq., who settled near
Toole's Ford, on the Catawba river, about one mile from the old
homestead of Col. James Johnston. He was a worthy christian citizen,
long a subject of patient suffering from disease, for many years an
elder of the Presbyterian church, and died peacefully on the 13th of
April, 1846, aged seventy-two years. His wife, Catharine, a lady of
great amiability and worth, died on the 17th of December, 1858, aged
seventy-four years.

Their descendants were, second generation:

1. Jane C. Hayes married Dr. Sidney J. Harris, of Cabarrus county.

2. Martha E. Hayes married William Fulenwider, of Lincoln county.

3. Margaret J. Hayes married Dr. William Adams, of York county, S.C.

4. Minerva W. Hayes married Col. William Grier, of Mecklenburg county.

5. Elizabeth L. Hayes married Charles L. Torrence, of Rowan county.

6. John L. Hayes married Matilda Hutchinson, of Mecklenburg county.

7. Dr. William J. Hayes married Isabella Alexander, great-grand
daughter of John McKnitt Alexander, a Signer and one of the
Secretaries of the Mecklenburg Convention of the 20th of May, 1775.

8. Dr. William Johnston, youngest son of Col. James Johnston, married
Nancy, daughter of Gen. Peter Forney, of Lincoln county.

Their descendants were, second generation:

1. Annie C. Johnston married Dr. Joseph W. Calloway, of Rutherford

2. Jane C. Johnston died at school in Greensboro, Guilford county.

3. Martha S. Johnston married Richard R. Hunley, Esq., of Alabama.

4. Capt. James F. Johnston, citizen of Charlotte.

5. Susan L. Johnston, citizen of Charlotte.

6. William P. Johnston, (died young).

7. Margaret Johnston married Col. Peter F. Hunley, of Alabama.

8. Gen. Robert D. Johnson married Johncie Evans, of Greensboro, N.C.

9. Dr. William H. Johnston married Cathleen Gage, of Chester county,

10. Capt. Joseph F. Johnston married Theresa Hooper, of Alabama.

11. Catharine Johnson died comparatively young.

12. Bartlett S. Johnston, now (1876) a merchant of New York city.

Most of the descendants of Colonel James Johnston performed a
soldier's duty, and won military distinction in the late war between
the States, but our prescribed limits forbid a more extended notice of
their Confederate services. This will be the noble task of some future
historian, illustrating, as it would, much heroic bravery, chivalric
daring, and perseverance under difficulties seldom surpassed in the
annals of any people. The preceding sketch and genealogy will serve to
perpetuate the name and indicate the relationship of different
branches of the family. It should awaken in every descendant emotions
of veneration for the memory of a common patriarchal ancestor, who was
one of the earliest and most unwavering patriots of the Revolutionary
struggle for independence; contributed largely in council and in the
field to its success, and whose mortal remains, with others of the
family, now repose in the private cemetery of the "Oak Grove" farm, in
Gaston county, N.C.


(Condensed from Wheeler's "Historical Sketches.")

Among the early settlers of Lincoln county (formerly Tryon) was Jacob
Forney, Sr. He was the son of a Huguenot, and born about the year
1721. His life was checkered with a vicissitude of fortunes bordering
on romance. At the revocation of the edict of Nantes, in 1685, his
father fled from France, preferring self-expatriation to the
renunciation of his religious belief, and settled in Alsace, on the
Rhine where, under the enlightening influences of the reformation,
freedom of opinion in matters of conscience was tolerated. The family
name was originally spelt _Farney_, but afterwards, in Alsace, where
the German language is generally spoken, was changed to _Forney_. Here
his father died, leaving him an orphan when four years old. At the age
of fourteen he left Alsace and went to Amsterdam in Holland. Becoming
delighted whilst there with the glowing accounts which crossed the
Atlantic respecting the New World, and allured with the prospect of
improving his condition and enjoying still greater political and
religious privileges, he came to America by the first vessel having
that destination, and settled in Pennsylvania. Here he remained
industriously employed until his maturity, when he returned to Germany
to procure a small legacy. Having adjusted his affairs there he again
embarked for America on board of a vessel bringing over many emigrants
from the Canton of Berne in Switzerland. Among the number was a
blithesome, rosy-cheeked damsel, buoyant with the chains of youth, who
particularly attracted young Forney's attention. His acquaintance was
soon made, and, as might be expected, a mutual attachment was silently
but surely formed between two youthful hearts so congenial in feeling,
and similarly filled with the spirit of adventure. Prosperous gales
quickly wafted the vessel in safety to the shores of America, and soon
after their arrival in Pennsylvania Jacob Forney and Mariah Bergner
(for that was the fair one's name) were united in marriage. At this
time the fertile lands and healthful climate of the South were
attracting a numerous emigration from the middle colonies. Influenced
by such inviting considerations, Forney joined the great tide of
emigration a few years after his marriage, and settled in Lincoln
county (formerly Tryon) about the year 1754.

The first settlers of Lincoln county suffered greatly by the
depredations and occasional murders by the Cherokee Indians. On
several occasions many of the inhabitants temporarily abandoned their
homes, and removed to the more populous settlements east of the
Catawba river. Others, finding it inconvenient to remove, constructed
rude forts for their mutual defence. A repetition of these incursions
having occurred a few years after Forney's arrival, he removed his
family to a place of safety east of the river until the Indians could
be severely chastised by military force. On the next day he returned
to his former residence, accompanied by two of his neighbors, to
search for his cattle. After proceeding about a mile from home they
spied a small Indian just ahead of them running rapidly, and not far
from the spot now well known as the "Rocky Spring Camp Ground." Forney
truly suspected more Indians were in the immediate vicinity. After
progressing but a short distance, he and his party discovered, in an
open space beyond them, ten or twelve Indians, a part of whom, at
least, were armed with guns, apparently waiting their approach. Forney
being a good marksman, and having a courage equal to any emergency,
was in favor of giving them battle immediately, but his two companions
overruled him, contending it would be impossible to disperse such a
large number. It was therefore deemed advisable to retreat, and make
their way to the fort, about two miles in their rear, where several
families had assembled. After proceeding a short distance the Indians
approached somewhat nearer and fired upon the party but without
effect. Forney directed his companies to reserve their fire until the
Indians approached sufficiently near to take a sure and deadly aim,
and maintain an orderly retreat in the direction of the fort. Soon
after they commenced retreating the Indians again fired upon them and
unfortunately one of the party, Richards, was dangerously wounded. At
this critical moment, when one or two well directed fires might have
repulsed their enemy, the courage of F----, the other companion,
failed him, and he made his _rapid departure_. Forney, however,
continued his retreat, assisting his wounded companion as much as he
could, and, although fired upon several times, managed to keep the
Indians at some distance off by presenting, his unerring rifle when
their timidity was manifested by falling down in the grass, or taking
shelter behind the trees, each one, no doubt, supposing the well-aimed
shot might fell him to the earth. At length poor Richards, becoming
faint from loss of blood, and seeing the imminent danger of his
friend's life, directed Forney to leave him, and, if possible, save
himself. This advice he reluctantly complied with and pursued his
course to the fort. But the Indians did not pursue him much farther,
being probably satisfied with the murder of the wounded Richards.

In this unequal contest Forney only received a small wound on the back
of his left hand, but, on examination, discovered that several bullets
had pierced his clothes. This adventure shows what cool, determined
bravery may effect under the most discouraging circumstances, and
that, an individual may sometimes providentially escape although made
the object of a score of bullets or other missiles of destruction.
When he reached the fort he found the occupants greatly frightened,
having heard the repeated firing. After this adventure and narrow
escape became generally known, a belief was widely entertained by the
surrounding community that Forney was _bullet-proof_. It was even
affirmed, and received _additions by repeating_, that after he reached
the fort and unbuttoned his vest, a _handful of bullets dropped out_.
In subsequent years Forney was accustomed to smile at this innocent
credulity of his neighbors but frequently remarked that the impression
of his being _bullet-proof_ was of great service to him on more than
one occasion preceding and during the Revolutionary war.

Few persons during the war suffered heavier losses than Jacob Forney.
By persevering industry and strict economy he had surrounded himself
and family with all the comforts, and, to some extent, luxuries of the
substantial farmer. When Cornwallis marched through Lincoln county in
the winter of 1781, endeavoring to overtake Morgan with his large
number of prisoners captured at the Cowpens, he was arrested in his
progress by the swollen waters of the Catawba river. Being thus foiled
in his expectations, supposing he had Morgan _almost in his grasp_,
Cornwallis fell back about five miles from the river to Forney's
plantation, having been conducted there by a Tory well acquainted with
the neighborhood. Here Cornwallis remained encamped for three days,
consuming, in the meantime Forney's entire stock of cattle, hogs,
sheep, geese, chickens, a large amount of forage, forty gallons of
brandy, &c. His three horses were carried off, and many thousands of
rails and other property destroyed. But the extent of his losses did
not end here. Cornwallis had been informed that Forney had a large
amount of money concealed somewhere in his premises, and that if
diligent search were made it might be readily found. This information
set the British soldiers to work, and, aided by the Tory conductor's
suggestions, they finally succeeded in finding his gold, silver and
jewelry buried in his distillery, the greater portion of which he had
brought with him from Germany. Whilst this work of search was going on
without, his Lordship was quietly occupying the upper story of the
family mansion, making it his headquarters. Forney and his wife being
old, were _graciously_ allowed the privilege of living in the
basement. As soon as he was informed his gold, silver and jewelry were
found, amounting to one hundred and seventy pounds sterling, he was so
exasperated for the moment that he seized his gun and rushed to the
stair steps with the determination to kill Cornwallis, but his wife
quickly followed and intercepted him, thus preventing the most
deplorable consequences--the loss of his own life, and perhaps that of
his family. But the prudent advice of his wife, "Heaven's last, best
gift to man," had its proper, soothing effect, and caused him to
desist from his impetuous purpose. It is hardly necessary to inform
the reader he was punished in this severe manner because he was a
zealous supporter of the cause of freedom, and his three sons were
then in the "rebel army."

The log house in which his lordship made his headquarters for _three
days_ and _four nights_ is still in existence, though removed, many
years since, from its original site to a more level location in the
immediate vicinity. In this humble building he, no doubt, cogitated
upon the speedy subjugation of the "rebels," and that subsequent
glorification which awaits the successful hero. Little did Cornwallis
then allow himself to think that he and his whole army, in less than
nine months from that time, would have to surrender to the "rebel
army," under Washington, as prisoners of war!

It is said Cornwallis, after finishing his morning repast upon the
savory beef and fowls of the old patriot's property, would come down
from his headquarters, up stairs and pass along his lines of soldiers,
extending for more than a mile in a northwest direction, and reaching
to the adjoining plantation of his son Peter, who kept "bachelor's
hall," but was then absent, with his brother Abram, battling for their
country's freedom. About midway of the extended lines, and only a few
steps from the road on which the British army was encamped, several
granite rocks protrude from the ground. One is about four feet high,
with a rounded, weather-worn top--a convenient place to receive his
lordship's cloak. Another rock, nearly adjoining, is about two feet
and a half high, with a flat surface gently descending, and five feet
across. At this spot Cornwallis was accustomed to dine daily with some
of his officers upon the rich variety of food seized during his stay,
and washing it all down, as might be aptly inferred, with a portion of
the forty gallons of captured brandy previously mentioned. This
smooth-faced rock, on which his lordship and officers feasted for
three days, is known in the neighborhood to this day as "Cornwallis'
Table." On visiting this durable remembrance of the past quite
recently, the writer looked around for a piece of some broken plate or
other vessel, but sought in vain. The only mementoes of this natural
table he could bear away were a few chips from its outer edge, without
seriously mutilating its weather-beaten surface, now handsomely
overspread with _moss_ and _lichen_. Where once the tramp and bustle
of a large army resounded, all is now quiet and silent around, save
the singing of birds and gentle murmurs of the passing breeze in the
surrounding forest.

After Cornwallis left, Forney ascertained that the Tory informer was
one of his near neighbors with whom he had always lived on terms of
friendship. Considering the heavy losses he had sustained attributable
to his agency, he could not overlook the enormity of the offence, and
accordingly sent a message to the Tory that he must leave the
neighborhood, if not, he would shoot him at _first sight_. The Tory
eluded him for several days by lying out, well knowing that the stern
message he had received _meant action_. At length Forney, still
keeping up his search, came upon him unawares and _fast asleep_. He
was immediately aroused from his slumbers, when beholding his perilous
situation, he commenced pleading most earnestly for his life, and
promised to leave the neighborhood. Forney could not resist such
touching appeals to his mercy, and kindly let him off. In a few days
afterward the Tory, true to his promise, left the neighborhood and
never returned.

Jacob Forney, Sr., died in 1806, aged eighty-five. In his offspring
flowed the blood of the Huguenot and the Swiss--people illustrating in
their history all that is grand in heroic suffering and chivalric
daring. His wife survived him several years; both were consistent and
worthy members of the Lutheran Church, and are buried in the "old
Dutch Meeting House" graveyard, about three miles from the family
homestead, and near Macpelah Church.


Gen. Peter Forney, second son of Jacob Forney, Sr., was born in Tyron
county (now Lincoln) in April, 1756. His father was the son of a
French Huguenot, and his mother Swiss. His origin is thus traced to a
noble class of people whose heroic bravery, unparalleled suffering and
ardent piety are closely connected in all lands where their lots have
been cast with the promotion of civil and religious liberty.

Gen. Forney was one of the earliest and most unwavering Whigs of the
revolutionary struggle. He first entered the service about the first
of June, 1876, in Capt. James Johnston's company and Col. William
Graham's regiment. The command marched to Fort McFadden, near the
present town of Rutherfordton, and found that the greater portion of
the inhabitants had fled for protection against the Cherokee Indians.
After remaining a short time at the fort, he joined a detachment of
about one hundred men in pursuit of the Indians, under Captains
Johnston, Cook and Hardin. They marched about one hundred miles, and
not being able to overtake them, the detachment returned to the fort.
In 1777, Gen. Forney volunteered as a Lieut. in Capt James Reid's
company, for the purpose of quelling a considerable body of Tories
assemble not far from the South Carolina line. The detachment was
commanded by Col. Charles M'Lean, who marched into South Carolina and
pursued after the Tories until it was ascertained Gen. Pickens,
considerably in advance with his forces, had commenced the pursuit of
the same, and was too far ahead to be overtaken. The detachment then
returned to North Carolina, and, having taken several prisoners on the
way, suspected of being inimical to the American cause, Capt. Reid was
ordered to convey them to Salisbury. Gen. Forney still remained in
service, and attached himself to Capt. Kuykendal's company until some
time in June. After this time he was frequently out in short
expeditions for the purpose of intimidating and keeping down the
rising spirit of the Tories, and arresting them, whenever the good of
the country seemed to require it. In the fall of 1779 Gen, Forney
volunteered with a party to go to Kentucky (Harrod Station) and after
staying there a short time returned home. At this time, there being a
call made upon the militia to march to the relief of Charleston, he
volunteered as a Lieut. in Capt. Neals' company, which was ordered to
rendezvous at Charlotte, whilst there, waiting for the assemblage of
more troops, he was appointed Captain by Col. Hampton and Lieut. Col.
Hambright, Capt. Neal being superseded in his command on account of
intemperance. From Charlotte the assembled forces march by way of
Camden to Charleston, under the command of Cols. Hall, Dickson and
Major John Nelson, continental officers. The militia of North
Carolina, at the time, was commanded by Gen. Lillington. The term of
service of Gen. Forney's company having expired shortly after his
arrival at Charleston, and the British being in considerable force off
that city, he induced the greater portion of his company to again
volunteer for about six weeks longer, until fresh troops, then
expected, would come to their relief. In the spring of 1780 Gen.
Forney, immediately after his return from Charleston, volunteered
under Lieut. Col. Hambright, and went in pursuit of Col. Floyd a Tory
leader on Fishing Creek, S. C. Hearing of their approach Floyd hastily
fled to Rocky Mount, and the expedition, not being able to accomplish
anything more at that time, returned to North Carolina. On the night
of his arrival at home Gen. Forney was informed that the Tories, under
Col. John Moore, were embodied in strong force at Ramsour's Mill near
the present town of Lincolnton. On the next day he left home and went
up the Catawba river, when, encountering a considerable body of Tories
near Mountain Creek, he returned and immediately hastened to inform
Gen. Rutherford. He found him encamped at Col. Dickson's, three miles
northwest of Tuckaseege Ford, with a strong force. He then attached
himself to his army, and marched early next morning to Ramsour's, but
did not reach there until two hours after the battle, the Tories
having been completely defeated by Col. Locke and his brave
associates. The dead and wounded were still lying where they had
fallen, and Gen, Rutherford's forces assisted in the closing duties of
that brilliant victory. Never afterwards in that county did
Tory-loyalism present a formidable opposition to the final success of
the American arms. Of the Whig officers the brave Captains Falls,
Dobson, Smith, Knox, Bowman, Sloan and Armstrong were killed, and
Captains Houston and McKissick wounded. Of the Tories, Captains
Murray, Cumberland and Warlick were killed, and Capt. Carpenter

During the latter part of the year 1780 Gen. Forney was almost
constantly in service in different portions of county. When Cornwallis
entered the county in the last week of January, 1781, endeavoring to
overtake Gen. Morgan with his prisoners captured at the Cowpens, he
was providentially arrested in his march by the swollen waters of the
Catawba river. He then fell back and encamped three days on the
plantation of Jacob Forney, Sr., a well to-do farmer and _noted Whig_,
consuming in the meantime, destroying or carrying off, every thing of
value belonging to father or son, (Gen. Forney,) consisting of three
horses, a large stock of cattle, hogs, sheep, fowls, forage, &c.

After the British army moved from this encampment, Gen. Forney
commanded a company and placed themselves on the eastern bank of the
river, endeavoring to oppose their crossing, and remained there until
the light troops, under Col. Hall, effected a passage at Cowan's Ford.
The militia being repulsed, and Gen. Davidson killed, he fled to Adam
Torrence's, hotly pursued by Tarleton's troop of cavalry. At this
place he found a considerable body of militia, but in great confusion
in consequence of the death of Gen. Davidson, and greatly
disheartened. After giving the British one discharge of their arms,
and killing several, the militia were repulsed, with small loss, and
fled in all directions. Gen. Forney then retreated across the Yadkin,
and remained on Abbot's creek about six weeks, during which time he
had no regular command, and co-operated with other soldiers, whenever
it appeared any advantage could be rendered to the American cause.

In the spring of 1871, Gen. Forney commenced repairing his plantation
which the British had entirely destroyed, together with that of his
father's in the immediate vicinity, whilst encamped there. He remained
at home until a call was made upon the militia to march to the relief
of Wilmington, when he again volunteered and commanded a company of
dragoons, associated with Captains White and Lemmonds. In this
expedition Charles Polk was appointed Major of dragoons, Gen.
Rutherford in chief command, and marched through the disaffected
country around Cross creek, (now Fayetteville,) and on to the
immediate vicinity of Wilmington. Here Gen. Rutherford created a
belief before his arrival that his forces were much larger than they
really were. In consequence of this belief Major Craig, in command of
the post, deeming his situation then insecure, immediately evacuated
Wilmington and fled to Charleston. This was the only post in North
Carolina held by the British, and with the flight of Craig all
military operations ceased within her borders. This campaign closed
the Revolutionary services of a gallant soldier and faithful patriot
in the cause of American freedom.

In 1783 Gen. Forney married Nancy, daughter of David Abernathy, a lady
of great moral worth and Christian benevolence. The natural goodness
of her heart made her the "cheerful giver." Her numerous acts of
charity were free of all ostentation, and flowed silently forth like
gentle streams from a pure fountain, imparting new vigor and
refreshing everything in their course. After the close of the war,
full of youthful enterprise, and anxious to engage in some useful
business, he fortunately became the owner of the "Big Iron Ore Bank,"
seven miles east of Lincolnton. This is one of the best and most
extensive deposits of iron ore, of the variety known as "magnetic," in
the State. Aware of the inexhaustible supply of ore, Gen. Forney
disposed of interests to other parties (Brevard and Graham) and they
immediately proceeded to erect a furnace (called Vesuvius) on
Anderson's creek, now owned by the heirs of the late J.M. Smith, Esq.
After a few years the copartnership was dissolved, separate sites were
purchased by Forney and Brevard, on Leeper's creek, additional
furnaces were erected and thus the manufacture of cast metal, under
its various forms, was vigorously and successfully carried into
operation. Gen. Forney commenced building his ironworks in 1787,
associated for several years with his brother Abram, laid in a supply
of the necessary stock, (ore and coal,) as recorded in a small account
book, produced hammered iron in his forge on the 28th of August, 1788.
This is believed to be the _first_ manufacture of iron in the western
part of the State. Here Gen. Forney permanently settled for life, and
prospered in his useful calling. His residence received the name of
"Mount Welcome," an appellation appropriately bestowed, as his future
history manifestly proved. The poor and needy of his own neighborhood
were frequently the beneficiaries of his bounty; and the weary
traveler was at all times made "welcome," and entertained beneath his
hospitable roof "without money, and without price."

Gen. Forney was elected as a member to the House of Commons from 1794
to 1796 inclusively, and to the State Senate in 1801 and 1802. He was
again called out from the shades of private life and elected as a
Representative to Congress from 1813 to 1815. He also served as
Elector in the Presidential campaigns of Jefferson, Madison, Monroe
and Jackson. With these repeated evidences of popular favor his public
services ended. Frequent solicitations were tendered to him
afterwards, all of which he declined. The infirmities of old age were
now rapidly stealing upon him, and rendering him unfit for the proper
discharge of public duties. For several years previous to his decease
his mental vigor and corporeal strength greatly failed. After a short
illness, without visible pain or suffering, he quietly breathed his
last on February 1st, 1834, in the seventy-eighth year of his age.
Generosity, candor, integrity and freedom from pride or vain show were
prominent traits in his character. Let his name and his deeds and his
sterling virtues be duly appreciated and faithfully imitated by the
rising generation.


Major Abram Forney, youngest son of Jacob Forney, Sr., was born in
Tryon county, (now Lincoln) in October, 1758. His father was a
Huguenot, and his mother Swiss. His origin is thus connected with a
noble race of people who were driven into exile rather than renounce
their religious belief under the persecutions which disgraced the
reign of Louis XIV, of France. Major Forney first entered the service
about the 25th of June, 1776, as one of the drafted militia in Capt.
James Johnston's company, and Col. William Graham's regiment. His
company was then ordered to reinforce the troops at Fort McFadden,
near the present town of Rutherfordton, and remained there until about
the 1st of August, when he returned home to prepare for the expedition
against the Cherokee Indians. The militia of Mecklenburg, Rowan,
Lincoln and other counties were called out by orders from Gen.
Rutherford, who marched to Pleasant Gardens, where he was joined by
other forces. From that place Major Forney marched into the Nation
with a detachment under Col. William Sharpe as far as the Hiwassee
river, where they met with a portion of Gen. Williamson's army from
South Carolina. The expedition was completely successful; the Indians
were routed, their towns destroyed, a few prisoners taken, and they
were compelled to sue for peace. The prisoners and property taken by
Gen. Rutherford's forces were turned over to Gen. Williamson, as
falling within his military jurisdiction. The expedition then left the
Nation, and he reached home on the 13th of October, 1776.

In February, 1777, Major Forney again volunteered as a private in
Capt. James Reid's company for the purpose of quelling some Tories who
had, or were about to embody themselves near the South Carolina line.
The detachment was commanded by Col. Charles McLean. The Tories were
commanded by a certain John Moore, whom Col. McLean pursued into South
Carolina until he ascertained Gen. Pickens was engaged in the same
pursuit, and too far ahead to be overtaken. The detachment then
returned to North Carolina, and having taken several prisoners on the
way, suspected of being inimical to the American cause, Major Forney
was ordered to take them to Salisbury. After this service he was
dismissed and returned home in April, 1777.

At different times subsequently Major Forney volunteered in several
short expeditions as far as the South Carolina line, for the purpose
of intimidating and keeping down the rising spirit of the Tories, who
were numerous in this section of country, and required a strict
vigilance to hold them in a state of subjection. Early in June, 1780,
when a call was made upon the militia, he volunteered in Capt. John
Baldridge's company, marched to a temporary rendezvous at Ramsour's,
and thence to Espey's, where they joined other troops under the
command of Col. William Graham and Lieut. Col. Hambright. The united
forces then proceeded to Lincoln "old Court House," near Moses
Moore's, the father of Col. John Moore, the Tory leader, and marched
and countermarched through that section of country. At this time,
hearing that Ferguson was coming on with a strong force, it was deemed
advisable to retreat and cross the Catawba at Tuckaseege Ford. Col.
Graham then marched with his forces to that place, and there met some
other troops from South Carolina, under Col. Williams, retreating
before Cornwallis, whose army had just reached Charlotte. The two
forces then united under Col. Williams and marched up the west side of
the Catawba river, and thence across the country in a circuitous
direction towards South Carolina in the rear of Ferguson, and thus
were enabled to fall in with the "over mountain" troops under
Campbell, Shelby, Cleaveland, Sevier, and others, at the Cowpens,
afterwards rendered famous by the battle fought there. The officers
having agreed upon the plan of operations, a select portion of the
combined forces marched rapidly in pursuit of Ferguson, and found him
encamped on King's Mountain on the 7th of October, 1780. The action
immediately commenced, and resulted in one of the most decisive
victories gained during the Revolutionary struggle, and constitutes
the _turning point_ of final triumph in the cause of American freedom.
Soon after the battle, Major Forney and Capt. James Johnston were
appointed to number the dead on the British side. They soon found
Ferguson at the foot of the hill, dead, and covered with blood. His
horse having been shot from under him, he continued to advance, sword
in hand, cheering on his men by word and example, until five or six
balls pierced his body and sealed his fate. Major Forney often stated
he picked up Ferguson's sword, intending to keep it as a trophy, but
some subordinate officer getting hold of it, made off with it, and
thus deprived him of his prize. An incident connected with the closing
scenes of this memorable battle is here worthy of being recorded:

As Major Forney was surveying the prisoners, through the guard
surrounding them, he spied one of his neighbors, who only a short time
before the battle had been acting with the Whigs, but had been
persuaded by some of his Tory acquaintances to join the king's troops.
Upon seeing him Major Forney exclaimed, "is that you, Simon?" The
reply quickly came back, "Yes, it is, Abram, and I beg you to get me
out of this _bull pen_; if you do, I will promise never to be caught
in such a scrape again." Accordingly, when it was made to appear on
the day of trial that he had been unfortunately wrought upon by some
Tory neighbors, such a mitigation of his disloyalty was presented as
to induce the officers holding the court-martial to overlook his
offence and set him at liberty. Soon afterward, true to his promise,
he joined his former Whig comrades, marched to the battle of Guilford
and made a good soldier to the end of the war.

Near the close of the year 1780, hearing that Col. Morgan was
preparing to go upon an expedition into South Carolina, Major Forney
attached himself to the command of Capt. James Little, with the
intention of joining his forces, but did not come up with them until
after the battle of the Cowpens. He then returned home, and remained
there until the 27th of January, 1781, when all the Whigs in his
section of the country had to fly before Cornwallis in pursuit of
Morgan with his large number of prisoners on their way to Virginia.
Major Forney then crossed the Catawba, and joined a detachment of
troops on its eastern bank under Capt. Henderson, placed as a guard by
Gen. Davidson at Cowan's Ford, where it was expected the British might
attempt to cross. Having stood guard for some time at this point, and
being relieved, he went a short distance to a house to procure
refreshments of which he was much in need, and was not present when
the guard was repulsed, and Gen. Davidson killed. He then fled with
the other troops to Adam Torrence's, about ten miles distant, where a
considerable body of militia had assembled, but were greatly
disheartened on account of the death of Gen. Davidson. The day was
damp and unfavorable to the use of firearms. The militia, without much
order, fired once at the British, killing seven, and then dispersed in
all directions. He then retreated until he reached Gen. Greene's army,
in Guilford county. From this place he was advised to return home, and
in doing so was furnished with a ticket to procure provisions on the

On the 25th of March, 1781, the militia being again called out, Major
Forney attached himself to the command of Capt. Samuel Espey, acting
as a Sergeant. The company then joined a detachment of militia under
Gen. Thomas Polk, marched into South Carolina, and came up with Gen.
Greene's army at Rugeley's Mill. The army was then placed under the
command of Col. Dudley, and remained under him until Gen. Greene
commenced his march to the post of Ninety Six. At this time, Capt.
Espey being compelled to leave the service in consequence of a wound
received at the battle of King's Mountain, went home with a part of
his company, and then Major Forney joined the command of Capt. Jack,
still acting as Sergeant. Soon afterward the expedition returned to
Charlotte, when he was dismissed by Capt. Jack, about the 1st of July,

In a short time afterward, Major Forney attached himself to the
company of Capt. John Weir, under orders to proceed to Wilmington. His
company crossed the Catawba at Tuckaseege Ford on the 1st day of
November, 1781, and encamped three or four miles beyond the river on
the road leading to Charlotte. On the next day the company marched
through Charlotte and encamped at Col. Alexander's, who had been
ordered to take command of the detachment. Whilst there intelligence
was received of the return of Gen Rutherford's forces. Major Forney
was then sent to that officer for orders; receiving these, the company
recrossed the Catawba. Capt. Loftin then took command in place of
Capt. Weir, who had resigned and returned home. The company proceeded
to form several stations in the county, and arrested some _suspected_
persons. Capt. Thomas McGee having assumed command in place of Loftin,
resigning, marched with the prisoners to Salisbury, and delivered them
up to the proper authorities on the 31st of December, 1781.

Again, when a call was made upon the militia in 1782, to march against
the Cherokee Indians, Major Forney was placed in command of a company,
and ordered to rendezvous at Ramsour's Mill. He remained there from
about the 1st of June until the 1st of August, when he marched to the
head of the Catawba and joined the troops of Burke and Wilkes. He then
attached his company to Col. Joseph McDowell's regiment, marched
across the Blue Ridge and met with the Rutherford troops on the
Swannanoa river, under the command of Col. Miller. After the junction
of the Rutherford troops, the expedition, under Gen. Charles McDowell,
marched into the Nation, nearly on the trail of Gen. Rutherford in
1776, but proceeded some farther than where his army halted. The
expedition was entirely successful; took a few prisoners, returned
home and were dismissed in October, 1782.

This was the last service of a brave soldier, who fought long, and
fought well, for the freedom of his country. Major Abram Forney died
on the 22nd day of July, 1849, in the ninety-first year of his age.

His only surviving son, Capt. Abram Earhardt Forney, at the present
time, (1876,) is still living at the old homestead, has already passed
his "three score years and ten;" is an industrious farmer, and worthy
citizen of Lincoln county.


Among the curious revolutionary mementoes that Capt. A.E. Forney, son
of Major Abram Forney, has in his possession is a small _leather
memorandum pocket-book_, filled originally with twenty-four blank
leaves; also a _powder horn_, made by his father preparatory to an
expedition to the mountains. The front, or opening sides, is
handsomely ornamented with numerous small stars, arranged diagonally
across the surface and around the borders. The back side has the
patriot's initials, A.F. distinctly impressed, and immediately
beneath, the year 1775, the whole displaying considerable artistic
skill; numerous entries appear on its pages, made at different times,
and without reference to strict chronological order; brief notices of
military and agricultural matters and occasionally a birth, death or
marriage are harmoniously blended. On page 5 is this entry: "The first
snow in the year 1775, was on December the 23rd day, and it was very

On the same page it is recorded: "April the 28th day, Old John Seagle
departed this world, 1780." On page 11 this entry appears: "May the
3rd day I sowed flax seed in the year 1779," and other entries
relating to the same agricultural avocation are interspersed through
the little book. The culture of flax was then an indispensible
employment. Our soldiers then wore _hunting shirts_, made of flax, to
the battle fields. Cotton was not generally cultivated until twenty
years later. On page 24 it is recorded: "May the 1st day there was a
frost in the year 1779." On page 22 is this entry: "Be it remembered
the battle between the Whigs and Tories (at Ramsour's) was fought on
the 20th day of June 1780." (Signed) Abram Forney. Had any doubt
arisen as to the precise date of this important battle it could have
been ascertained from this memorandum pocket-book of this
distinguished patriotic soldier. On page 13 is an entry which, on its
realization, sent a thrill of joy throughout the land: "April the 17th
day, great talk of peace in the year 1783." The definite treaty was
not signed until the 30th of September following, and a new Republic
sprung into existence.


Jacob Forney, Sr., (sketch of his life previously given) married
Mariah Bergner, a native of Switzerland. Their descendants were three
sons, Jacob, Peter and Abram, and four daughters. Catherine married
Abram Earhardt, Elizabeth married John Young, Christina married David
Abernathy and Susan married John D. Abernathy. Of the descendants of
the daughters, who left the State soon after marriage, little is

Jacob Forney, the eldest son, married Mary Corpening, of Burke county,
N.C. Soon after the Revolutionary war he purchased a valuable track of
land on Upper creek, five miles northwest of Morganton, on which he
settled and raised a large family. He lived a long, quiet and useful
life. His tombstone, in a private cemetery on the old homestead
property, bears this inscription: "Sacred to the memory of Jacob
Forney, born Nov. 6th, 1754, died Nov. 7th, 1840, aged eighty-six
years and one day." He had eleven children:

1. Elizabeth E. Forney, (died young.)

2. Thomas J. Forney married S.C. Harris, of Montgomery county.

3. Isaac Newton Forney, married M.L. Corpening, of Burke county.

4. Marcus L. Forney married S. Connelly, of Burke county.

5. Albert G. Forney married Eglantine Logan, of Rutherford county.

6 Fatima E. Forney married H. Alexander Tate, of Burke county.

7. Peter Bergner Forney married M.S. Connelly, of Caldwell county.

8. James Harvey Forney married Emily Logan, of Rutherford county.

9. Daniel J. Forney married S.C. Ramsour, of Lincoln county.

10. Mary L. Forney married W.P. Reinhardt, of Catawba county.

11. Catharine S. Forney married A.T. Bost, of Catawba county.

12. _General Peter Forney_, (sketch of his life previously given)
married Nancy, daughter of David Abernathy, of Lincoln county. He had
twelve children:

1. Daniel M. Forney married Harriet Brevard, of Lincoln county.

2. Mary Forney married Christian Reinhardt, of Lincoln county.

3. Moses Forney, (died in Alabama unmarried.)

4. Jacob Forney married Sarah Hoke, of Lincoln county,

5. Joseph Forney (died comparatively young.)

6. Eliza Forney married 1st, Henry T. Webb, Esq., of North Carolina,
and 2nd, Dr. John Meek, of Alabama.

7. Susan Forney married Bartlett Shipp, Esq., of Lincoln county.

8. Lavinia Forney married John Fulenwider, of Lincoln county.

9. Nancy Forney married Dr. William Johnston, of Lincoln county.

10. Caroline Forney married Ransom G. Hunley, of South Carolina.

11. Sophia G. Forney married Dr. C.L. Hunter, of Lincoln county.

12. J. Monroe Forney married Sarah Fulenwider, of Cleaveland county.

13. _Major Abram Forney_, (sketch of his life previously given,)
married Rachel Gabriel, of Lincoln county. He only had two children:

1. Abram Earhardt Forney, a worthy citizen of the same county, and now
(1876) considerably past his "three score years and ten," and 2., John
W. Forney, who died comparatively young.

Daniel M. Forney, eldest son of Gen. Peter Forney, received the
appointment of Major in the war of 1812, and proceeded to the scene of
conflict in Canada. He served as a Representative to Congress from
1815 to 1818, and as a Senator from Lincoln county to the State
Legislature from 1823 to 1826. In 1834, he moved to Lowndes county,
Ala., where he died in October, 1847, in the sixty-fourth year of his
age. He had seven children:

1. Eloise Forney married Gen. Jones Withers, of Mobile, Ala.

2. Mariah Forney married Judge Moore, of Alabama,

3. Alexander B. Forney, (died comparatively young.)

4. Harriet Forney, (died young.)

5. Macon Forney, (died young.)

6. Susan Forney, married Dr. B.C. Jones, of Alabama.

7. Emma Forney married Col. M. Smith, of Alabama.

2. _Mary Forney_, who married Christian Reinhardt, had five sons and
four daughters. One of the sons, Franklin M. Reinhardt, who remained
in the State, was a worthy member of society, highly esteemed by all
who knew him, and remarkable for his benevolent disposition and
liberality to the poor. He married Sarah, daughter of the late David
Smith, of Lincoln county. He died on the 12th of June, 1869, in the
sixty-second year of his age.

3. _Jacob Forney_, who married Sarah Hoke, daughter of the late Daniel
Hoke, formerly of Lincoln county, N.C., was an enterprising, useful
and highly respected member of society, possessed many noble traits of
character, and raised a large and interesting family. He moved in
1835, from Lincoln county to Alabama, and settled in Jacksonville,
where he died on the 24th of April, 1856, in the sixty-ninth, year of
his age. He had nine children:

1. Daniel P. Forney, of Jacksonville, Alabama.

2. Joseph B. Forney married Mary Whitaker, of Alabama.

3. William H. Forney married Eliza Woodward, of Alabama.

4. Barbara Ann Forney married P. Rowan, Esq., of Alabama.

5. Gen. John H. Forney married Septima Rutledge, grand-daughter of
Edward Rutledge, one of the signers of the Declaration of

6. Emma E. Forney married 1st, Col. Rice, 2nd, Rev. Thomas A. Morris.

7. Col. George H. Forney, (killed at Spotsylvania Court House, Va.)

8. Catharine Amelia Forney, married J.M. Wylie, Esq., of Alabama.

9. Mariah Louisa Forney, ("Ida") married R.D. Williams, Esq., of

The sons of Jacob Forney won military distinction and renown in the
late Confederate war. Our prescribed limits forbid a more extended
notice of their gallant services. Their chivalric courage and "deeds
of noble daring" will justly claim the careful study of some future

4. _Eliza Forney_ married 1st, Henry Y. Webb, Esq., of Granville
county, N.C. He was educated at the University of North Carolina, was
a member of the Legislature in 1817; appointed by President Monroe,
Territorial Judge of Alabama; elected to the same position by the
State Convention of 1819, and died in September, 1823.

Eliza Forney, by first marriage with Henry Y. Webb, Esq., had five

1. Frances Ann Webb married Col. John R. Hampton formerly of
Charlotte, N.C., now a worthy and highly respected citizen of Bradley
county, Ark. His wife Frances, died in 1842, leaving three children,
of whom only one, (Susan) widow of Dr. Greene Newton, at present

2. William P. Webb, Esq., married Martha Bell, of Alabama. His
children are:

1. James E. Webb, of Hale county, Alabama, married Zemma Creswell.

2. Frances E. Webb married Robert Crawford, of St. Louis, Mo.

3. Judge William H. Webb married "Donna Louise Abrigo," of Monterey,

4. Rev. Frank Bell Webb, pastor of the Presbyterian church, at Union
Springs, Ala.

5. Wert Webb, commission merchant of St. Louis, Mo., and two
daughters, now in their minority.

3. Col. James D. Webb, of the 51st Alabama Regiment, married Jessie
Walton. He was frequently a member of the Legislature of Alabama, and
was highly esteemed for his purity of character. He died of wounds
received in battle, July 3rd, 1863, near Winchester, Tenn., where he
is buried. He left a widow and six children.

4. Susan E. Webb died in 1832, at the age of twelve years.

5. Dr. Henry Y. Webb, married Elizabeth S. Alexander, a great-grand
daughter of Abraham Alexander, Chairman of the Mecklenburg Convention
of the 20th of May, 1775. Most of the Alexanders in the United States
have descended from seven brothers who fled from Scotland to the North
of Ireland on account of civil and religious persecutions. From 1725
to 1740, many of their descendants emigrated to America, one of whom
was William Alexander, who inherited an estate and earldom in
Scotland, and became Lord Stirling, a distinguished General in the
Revolutionary war. After a short sojourn in Pennsylvania, many of the
Alexander families and their descendants emigrated south, and formed
numerous settlements in Mecklenburg and adjoining counties.

Descendants of Eliza Forney (2nd marriage) and Dr. John Meek were:

1. Samuel T. Meek, married Miss Cabeen, of South Carolina.

2. John A. Meek, of Franklin, Ky., married Miss Newton, of Arkansas.

3. Lavinia Meek married, 1st, Col. Harry Williams, of Louisiana and
2nd, E.B. Cryer, of Trenton, Louisiana.

4. Nancy, and 5, Sarah Meek.

Bartlett Shipp, who married Susan Forney, served in the State
Legislature from 1824 to 1830, and was one of the delegates from
Lincoln county in 1835, to amend the constitution. He was an able
lawyer, had a large practice for many years, and died in Lincolnton,
on the 26th of May, 1869, in the eighty fourth year of his age. His
descendants were:

1. Eliza Shipp married William Preston Bynum, Esq., at present one of
the Judges of the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

2. William M. Shipp, Esq., married 1st, Catharine Cameron, of
Hillsboro, and 2d, Margaret Iredell, of Raleigh.

3. Susan Shipp married V.Q. Johnson, Esq., of Virginia.

Descendants of John Fulenwider and Lavinia Forney were:

1. John M. Fulenwider married Frances Hudson, of Alabama.

2. Eliza Fulenwider married L.M. Rudisill, Esq., of Catawba county,

3. Robert Fulenwider married Mary Sellers of Alabama.

4. Daniel Fulenwider married Mary Ann Leslie of Alabama.

5. Jane Fulenwider married Joshua Kirby, of Alabama.

6. Fannie Fulenwider, married James Gore, of Alabama.

7. Louisa Fulenwider married Robert Loyd, of Alabama.

8. Mary Fulenwider, (unmarried.)

For descendants of Dr. William Johnston and Nancy Forney see
"Genealogy of Colonel James Johnston."

Descendants of Ransom G. Hunley and Carolina Forney, were:

1. Richard R. Hunley married Martha S. Johnston, of Lincoln county.

2. Col. Peter F. Hunley married Margaret Johnston, of Lincoln county.

3. Mary Hunley married Gen. E.W. Martin, of Alabama.

4. Annie Hunley married Alfred Agee, Esq., of Alabama.

5. Ransom Hunley, (died young.)

Descendants of Dr. C.L. Hunter and Sophia G. Forney, were:

1. Nancy Jane Hunter, (died young.)

2. Caroline Elmina Hunter, (died young.)

3. Henry Stanhope Hunter (severely wounded in the late war.)

4. Capt. George William Hunter, mortally wounded in the battle at
Chancellorsville, Va.

5. Sophia F. Hunter married John H. Sharp, Esq., of Norfolk, Va.



Gaston county was formed in 1846, from Lincoln county, and derives its
name from William Gaston, one of the most distinguished men of North
Carolina, and late one of the Judges of the Supreme Court. In the
language of one who knew him well (the late Chief Justice Ruffin) "he
was a great Judge, and a good man." Its capital, Dallas, is named in
honor of the Hon. George M. Dallas, Vice-President of the United
States in 1844.

The territory embraced in this county, contained many true and gallant
Whigs during the Revolutionary war. Sketches of some of these will
appear in the present chapter.


[Condensed from Wheeler's "Historical Sketches."]

Rev. Humphrey Hunter was born in Ireland, near Londonderry, on the
14th of May, 1775. His paternal grandfather was from Glasgow, in
Scotland. His maternal grandfather was from Brest, in France. His
descent is thus traced to the Scotch-Irish, and Huguenots of France,
forming a race of people who greatly contributed to the spread of
civil and religious liberty wherever their lots were cast. In America,
the asylum of the oppressed of all nations, many of their descendants
occupy proud positions on the page of history, and acted a magnanimous
part in the achievement of our independence.

At the early age of four years, Humphrey Hunter was deprived by death
of his father. In a short time afterward, his mother joined the great
tide of emigration to the new world, and in May 1759, embarked on the
ship Helena, bound for Charleston, S.C. After a long and boisterous
voyage, the vessel at length reached its destination in safety. His
mother then procured a cheap conveyance and proceeded to the eastern
part of Mecklenburg county, (now in Cabarrus) where she purchased a
small tract of land, and spent the remainder of her days.

In the manuscript journal of the Rev. Humphrey Hunter, we are
furnished with some interesting facts respecting his life and
services. He informs us he grew up in the neighborhood of Poplar Tent,
inhaling the salubrious air of a free clime, and imbibing the
principles of genuine liberty. At this stage of his early training, he
pays a beautiful tribute to the patriotism of the mothers of the
Revolution. He says:

     "Neither were our mother's silent at the commencement of the
     Revolution." "Go son, said his mother, and join yourself to
     the men of our country. We ventured our lives on the waves
     of the ocean in quest of the freedom promised us here. Go,
     and fight for it, and rather let me hear of your _death_
     than of your _cowardice_."

In a short time afterward this patriotic advice of his mother was
called into action. "Orders were presently issued," continues his
journal, "by Colonel Thomas Polk to the several militia companies of
the county for two men, selected from each _beat_ or district to meet
at the Court House in Charlotte, on the 19th day of May, 1775, in
order to consult upon such measures as might be thought best to be
pursued. Accordingly, on said day, a far greater number than two out
of each company were present." Drawn by the great excitement of the
occasion, surpassing that of any other preceding it, he attended the
Convention on the appointed day. He was then a few days over twenty
years of his age, and mingled with the numerous crowd of interested
spectators. He then had the pleasure of listening to the reading of
the _first Declaration of Independence_ in the United States, and
joined in the shout of approval which burst forth from the assembled
multitude. In a short time after the Convention in Charlotte, Col.
Thomas Polk raised a regiment of infantry and cavalry, and marched in
the direction of Cross creek (now Fayetteville) to disperse a body of
Tories. In this service, he joined a corps of cavalry under Captain
Chas. Polk. Soon after the return of this expedition, he commenced his
classical studies at Clio Academy, in the western part of Rowan
county, (now Iredell) under the instruction of the Rev. James Hall.

About this time the Cherokee Indians were committing numerous
depredations and occasional murders near the head sources of the
Catawba river. Upon this information, Gen. Rutherford called out a
brigade of militia from Guilford, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Lincoln and
other western counties, composed of infantry and three corps of
cavalry. In one of the companies commanded by Captain, afterwards Col.
Robert Mebane, he acted as Lieutenant. Two skirmishes took place
during this campaign, in which several Indians were killed and a
considerable number made prisoners, among the latter, Hicks and Scott,
two white traders, who had married Indians and espoused their cause.
After his return from the Cherokee expedition, he resumed his
classical education at Queen's Museum, in Charlotte, under the control
of Dr. Alexander McWhorter, an eminent Presbyterian clergyman from New
Jersey. In the summer of 1780, this institution, having assumed in
1777, the more patriotic name of "Liberty Hall Academy," was broken up
by the approach of the British army under Lord Cornwallis. The school,
then in a flourishing state, was dismissed; the young men were urged
by Dr. McWhorter with patriotic appeals, to take up arms in defence of
their country; and upon all he invoked the blessings of Heaven. At
this time Gen. Gates was on his way to the Southern States. Under
orders from Gen. Rutherford, a brigade was promptly raised to
rendezvous at Salisbury. In this brigade Hunter acted for a short time
as Commissary, and afterward as Lieutenant in the company of Capt.
Givens. This force first marched from Salisbury down the northeast
side of the Yadkin, scouring the Tory settlements of the Uwharrie and
Deep rivers, previous to its junction with Gen. Gates at Cheraw. From
this place Gen. Gates moved forward to Clermont, where he arrived on
the 12th of August. On the 15th he marched towards Camden, progressing
as far as the Gum Swamp, where sharp skirmishing took place in the
night between advanced parties of the Americans and the British. On
the 16th of August, 1780, the unfortunate battle of Camden was fought.
A contagious panic seized most of the militia early in the action, and
a precipitate retreat was the natural consequence. The regulars of
Maryland and Delaware, with a small portion of the North Carolina
militia, firmly stood their ground until surrounded with overwhelming
numbers. The subject of this sketch was there made a prisoner and
stripped of most of his clothes. Soon after his surrender he witnessed
the painful incidents of battle, resulting in the death of Baron
DeKalb. He informs us he saw the Baron without suite or aid, and
without manifesting the designs of his movements, galloping down the
line. He was soon descried by the enemy, who, clapping their hands on
their shoulders in reference to his epaulettes, exclaimed "a General,
a rebel General." Immediately a man on horseback (not Tarleton) met
him and demanded his sword. The Baron reluctantly presented the handle
towards him, inquiring in French, "Are you an officer, sir." His
antagonist not understanding the language, with an oath, more sternly
demanded his sword. The Baron then rode on with all possible speed,
disdaining to surrender to any one but an officer. Soon the cry, "a
rebel General," sounded along the line. The musketeers immediately, by
platoons, fired upon him. He proceeded about twenty-five rods, when he
fell from his horse, mortally wounded. Presently he was raised to his
feet, stripped of his hat, coat and neck-cloth, and placed with his
hands resting on a wagon. His body was found, upon examination, to
have been pierced by seven musket balls. Whilst standing in this
position, and the blood streaming through his shirt, Cornwallis, with
his suite, rode up. Being informed that the wounded man was Baron De
Kalb, he addressed him by saying: "I am sorry, sir, to see you; not
sorry that you are vanquished, but sorry to see you so badly wounded."
Having given orders to an officer to administer to the wants of the
Baron, Cornwallis rode on to secure the fruits of his victory. In a
short time the brave and generous De Kalb, who had served in the
armies of France and embarked in the American cause, breathed his
last. He is buried in Camden, where a neat monument has been erected
to his memory.

After being confined seven days in a prison-yard in Camden, Hunter was
taken, with many other prisoners, including about fifty officers, to
Orangeburg, where he remained until the 13th of November following,
_without hat or coat_. On that day, without any intention of
transgressing, he set out to visit a friendly lady in the suburbs who
had promised to give him a homespun coat. Before he reached her
residence, he was stopped by a horseman, armed with sword and pistols,
who styled himself a Lieutenant of the station at the Court House,
under Col. Fisher. The horseman blustered and threatened, and sternly
commanded him to march before him to the station to be tried for
having broken his parole. No excuse, apology or confession would be
received in extenuation of his transgression. "To the station," said
the horseman, "you shall go--take the road." The Tory loyalist was
evidently exercising his brief authority over a real Whig. Up the road
his prisoner had to go, sour and sulky, with much reluctance, being
hurried in his march by the point of the Tory's sword. Hunter pursued
his course, but constantly on the look-out for some means of
self-defence. Fortunately, after they progressed a short distance,
they approached a large fallen pine tree, around which lay a quantity
of pine-knots, hardened and blackened by the recent action of fire.
Hunter, in an instant, saw "his opportunity," immediately jumped to
the further side of said tree, and, armed with a good pine-knot,
prepared for combat. The Tory instantly fired one of his pistols at
him, but without effect. He then leaped his horse over the tree.
Hunter, with equal promptness, exchanged sides, being fired at a
second time by his would-be conqueror, but again without effect. Much
skilful maneuvering took place, whilst the Tory was thus kept at bay.
Hunter then commenced a vigorous warfare with the pine-knots so
opportunely placed at his command, and dealt them out with profuse
liberality. The accurate aim of two or three pine-knots against the
horseman's head soon disabled him and brought him to the ground. He
was then disarmed of his sword, and capitulated on the following
terms: That Hunter should never make known the conquest he had gained
over him, and give back the captured sword; and that he, (the Tory
loyalist) would never report to headquarters that any of the prisoners
had ever crossed the boundary line, or offended in any other manner.
But secrecy could not be preserved, for during the combat the horse,
without his rider, galloped off to the station and created
considerable anxiety respecting the horseman's fate. All serious
apprehensions, however, were soon removed as the dismounted horseman
presently made his appearance, with several visible bruises on his
head, bearing striking proof of the effective precision of the
pine-knots. A close examination was soon instituted at the station,
and numerous searching questions propounded to the wounded horseman,
when the history of the contest had to be given, and all concealment
no longer attempted. The rencounter took place on a Friday evening. On
the Sabbath following, orders were issued by Col. Fisher to all the
prisoners to appear at the Court House on Monday by twelve o'clock. On
the evening of that Sabbath, Hunter, expecting close confinement, or,
perhaps, the loss of his life, made his escape with five or six others
from Mecklenburg, and commenced their way to North Carolina.

They concealed themselves by day to avoid the British scouts sent in
pursuit, and traveled during the night, supporting themselves
principally on the _raw corn_ found by the way-side. On the ninth
night after they set out from Orangeburg, they crossed the Catawba and
arrived safely in Mecklenburg county.

After remaining a few days at his mother's residence, he again entered
the service, and joined a cavalry company, acting as lieutenant under
Colonel Henry Lee. In a short time, the battle of the Eutaw Springs,
the last important one in the extreme South, took place. In this
engagement, where so much personal bravery was displayed, he performed
a gallant part, and was slightly wounded. With this campaign, his
military services ended. Among the variety of incidents which occurred
during this year he was gratified in revisiting his old prison-bounds,
and in witnessing the reduction of the station at Orangeburg. But
greater still was the gratification he experienced in again beholding
the identical sword he had taken from his Tory antagonist, as
previously stated.

Soon after the close of the war he resumed his classical studies under
the instruction of the Rev. Robert Archibald, near Poplar Tent Church.
During the summer of 1785, he entered the Junior Class at Mount Zion
College, in Winnsboro, S.C., and graduated in July, 1787. In a short
time afterward he commenced the study of Theology under the care of
the Presbytery of South Carolina, and was licensed to preach in
October, 1789. In 1796 he removed from South Carolina to the
south-eastern part of Lincoln county (now Gaston) where he purchased a
home for his rising family. His ministerial labors extended through a
period of nearly thirty-eight years, principally at Goshen and Unity
churches in Lincoln county (under its old boundaries) and Steele Creek
church, in Mecklenburg county. In 1789 he married Jane, daughter of
Dr. George Ross, of Laurens District, S.C.--an estimable lady, noted
for her amiable disposition, numerous acts of charity, and fervent

In his preaching Mr. Hunter was earnest, persuasive and often
eloquent. He possessed, in a remarkable degree, a talent for refined
sarcasm, and knew how to use most effectively its piercing shafts
against the idle objections, or disingenuous cavils of all triflers
with the great truths of religion. In his advanced years the
infirmities of old age greatly contracted the extent of his useful
labors without impairing the vigor of his mental powers or the
fervency and faithfulness of his preaching. He died, with Christian
resignation, on the 21st of August, 1827, in the 73rd year of his age.
The Rev. Humphrey Hunter had ten children, of whom, at the present
time (1876) only one, the author and compiler of these sketches,


Dr. William McLean was born in Rowan county, N.C., on the 2nd day of
April, 1757. His father, Alexander McLean, was a native of Ireland,
who emigrated to America, landing at Philadelphia, between the years
1725 and 1730. Some time after his arrival in Pennsylvania he married
Elizabeth Ratchford, whose father emigrated from England shortly after
McLean left Ireland. Three of his daughters, Jane, Margaret and Agnes,
were born in that State. He then joined the great tide of emigration
to the more enticing fields and genial climate of the southern
colonies, and settled in the Dobbin neighborhood, eight miles from
Salisbury, Rowan county, N.C. Here he remained for a few years, during
which time his eldest son John, and William, the immediate subject of
this sketch, were born. He then moved to a tract of land he purchased
near the junction of the South Fork with the main Catawba river, in
Tryon, (now Gaston county,) where three more sons were born,
Alexander, George and Thomas. This place he made his permanent abode
during the remainder of his life, surrounded with the greater portion
of his rising family. He attained a good old age, his wife surviving
him a few years; both were consistent members of the Presbyterian
church, and are buried at the old "Smith graveyard," near the place of
his last settlement. Soon after the Revolutionary war, Alexander
McLean, Jr., moved to Missouri, and George McLean to Tennessee. Thomas
McLean, the youngest son, retained the old homestead, where, at an
advanced age, he ended his earthly existence. Although only thirteen
years old at the time of the battle of King's Mountain, he could give
a glowing account of the heroic bravery which characterized that
brilliant victory in which many of his neighbors, under the brave
Lieut. Col. Hambright and Maj. Chronicle, actively participated. John
McLean, the eldest son, performed a soldier's duty on several
occasions during the war. Upon the call of troops from North Carolina
for the defence of Charleston, he attached himself to Col. Graham's
regiment, under Gen. Rutherford, and was there captured. Immediately
after being exchanged, he returned to North Carolina and joined the
command of Capt. Adlai Osborne, and about three month's afterward was
killed in a skirmish at Buford's Bridge, S.C.

After the removal of Alexander McLean to his final settlement on the
south fork of the Catawba, as previously stated, William assisted him
on the farm, and when a favorable opportunity offered, went to school
in the neighborhood, acquiring as good an education as the facilities
of the country then afforded. His instructor for the last three months
in this early training was a Mr. Blythe, who, noticing his rapid
advancement in learning, and capacity for more extended usefulness,
advised him to go to Queen's Museum, in Charlotte. This institution
was then in high repute under the able management of Dr. Alexander and
Rev. Alexander McWhorter, a distinguished Presbyterian clergyman from
New Jersey.

Dr. McLean complied with the advice of his instructor, and became a
pupil of Queen's Museum. In this venerated institution, shedding
abroad its enlightening influence on Western North Carolina, many of
the leading patriots of the Revolution acquired their principal
educational training. Its president, Dr. McWhorter, was not only an
eminent preacher of the gospel, but was also an ardent patriot, and
never failed, on suitable occasions, to discuss the politics of the
day, and instil into the minds of his youthful pupils the essential
principles of civil and religious liberty. His sentiments in this
respect were so generally known, that it is said Cornwallis previous
to his entrance into Charlotte in 1780, was extremely anxious to
_enfold him in his embraces_. Dr. McLean remained in this institution
of learning about two years and then returned home. Having made up his
mind to become a physician during his collegiate course, he gathered
all the medical books he could procure at that period, and diligently
devoted his time to their study. In this stage of his early
preparation for future usefulness, Dr. Joseph Blythe, a distinguished
surgeon in the Continental Army, wrote to him in terms of warmest
friendship, and offered him the position of "surgeon's mate." This
offer he accepted, repaired to Charlotte, and they both marched with
the army to James Island, near Charleston. In this immediate vicinity
at Stono (the narrow river or inlet, which separates John's Island
from the main land) a severe but indecisive battle had been fought
between a detachment of General Lincoln's army and the British, under
General Prevost, in June, 1779. At the time of Dr. McLean's arrival at
James Island, many soldiers were sick with the pestilential "camp
fever" of that sultry climate, or were suffering from the wounds of
battle at the army hospital. Some of these sufferers were from Lincoln
and Mecklenburg counties, with whom he was personally acquainted.
Under judicious medical treatment he was pleased to see most of them,
in a short time, restored to health and ready for the future service
of their country.

In the summer and fall of 1780 Dr. McLean was constantly with the
Southern army watching the movements of Ferguson in the upper Tory
settlements of South Carolina, previous to his defeat and death at
King's Mountain. After that battle he went to Charlotte to wait on the
sick and the wounded at that place.

In 1781 he was with General Greene's army, near Camden, and at other
military encampments requiring his services. In all of these
responsible positions he continued to faithfully discharge the duties
of "Surgeon's Mate," or Assistant Surgeon, until the close of the

Having completed his preparatory studies Dr. McLean went to the
medical University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia, and received from
that venerable institution his diploma in 1787. In a short time after
his arrival at home he purchased a farm in the "South Point"
neighborhood, soon engaged in an extensive practice (frequently
charitable) and became eminent in his profession.

On the 19th of June, 1792, Dr. McLean married Mary, daughter of Major
John Davidson, one of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of
Independence. In 1814 he was elected to the Senate from Lincoln
county. In 1815 he delivered an address at King's Mountain,
commemorative of the battle at that place, and caused to be erected,
at his own expense, a plain headstone of dark slate rock, with
appropriate inscriptions on both sides. The inscription on the east
side reads thus: "Sacred to the memory of Major William Chronicle,
Capt. John Mattocks, William Robb and John Boyd, who were killed here
on the 7th of October, 1780, fighting in defence of America." The
inscription on the west side reads thus: "Colonel Ferguson, an officer
belonging to his Brittanic Majesty, was here defeated and killed."

Dr. McLean, after a life of protracted usefulness, died with peaceful
resignation on the 25th of October, 1828, in the seventy-second year
of his age. His wife survived him many years, being nearly
ninety-seven years old at the time of her death. They were both long,
worthy and consistant members of the Presbyterian church, dignified
their lives with their professions, and are buried in Bethel
Graveyard, York county, S.C.


Major William Cronicle, the soldier and martyr to the cause of liberty
at King's Mountain, was born in the south eastern part of Lincoln
county (now Gaston) about 1755. His mother was first married to a Mr.
McKee in Pennsylvania, who afterwards removed to North Carolina and
settled in Mecklenburg county. By this marriage she had one son, James
McKee, a soldier of the revolution, and ancestor of the several
families of that name in the neighborhood of Armstrong's Ford, on the
South Fork of the Catawba. After McKee's death, his widow married Mr.
Chronicle, by whom she had an only son, William, who afterward
performed a magnanimous part in defence of his country's rights. The
site of the old family mansion is still pointed out by the oldest
inhabitants with feelings of lingering veneration. "There," they will
tell you, "is the spot where old Mr. Chronicle lived and his brave
son, William, was brought up." The universal testimony of all who knew
Major Chronicle represented him as the constant, never-tiring advocate
of liberty, and as exerting a powerful influence in spreading the
principles of freedom throughout the whole lower portion of old
Lincoln county. His jovial turn of mind and winning manners, by
gaining the good will of all, greatly assisted in making successful
his appeals to their patriotism, and promoting the cause of liberty in
which he had so zealously embarked.

Major Chronicle's first service was performed as Captain of a company
at Purysburg in South Carolina. Early in the fall of 1780, a regiment
was raised in Lincoln county, over which Col. William Graham was
appointed Colonel; Frederick Hambrite, Lieut. Colonel, and William
Chronicle, Major. It is well known that Col. Graham, on account of
severe sickness in his family, was not present at the battle of King's
Mountain. The immediate command of the regiment, assisted by Col.
Dickson of the county, was then gallantly assumed by these officers,
and nobly did they sustain themselves by word and example, in that
ever-memorable conflict. Major Chronicle was brave, perhaps to a
fault, energetic in his movements, self possessed in danger, and
deeply imbued with the spirit of liberty. His last words of
encouragement in leading a spirited charge against the enemy, were
"Come on my boys, never let it be said a Fork boy run," alluding to
South Fork, near which stream most of them resided.

This patriotic appeal was not given in vain. It nerved every man for
the contest. Onward his brave boys steadily moved forward, Major
Chronicle in the advance, and approached within gun-shot of the
British forces. Just at this time, a few sharp shooters of the enemy
discharged their pieces, and retreated. The brave Chronicle fell
mortally wounded, receiving a fatal ball in the breast. Almost at the
same time, Capt. John Mattocks and Lieutenants William Rabb and John
Boyd, also fell. Major Chronicle was only about twenty-five years old
at the time of his death. The late Capt. Samuel Caldwell and his
brother William, were both in this battle. William Caldwell brought
home Major Chronicle's horse; his sword and spurs passed into the
hands of his half brother, James McKee, and the venerated memorials
are still in possession of one of his sons, who moved many years ago
to Tennessee.


Captain Samuel Martin was a native of Ireland, and born in the year
1732. When a young man, he emigrated to America, and first settled in
Pennsylvania. After remaining a short time in that State, he joined
the great tide of emigration to the southern colonies. He first
entered the service as a private in Captain Robert Alexander's
company, in June 1776, Colonel Graham's Regiment, and marched to Fort
McGaughey, in Rutherford county, and thence across the Blue Ridge
Mountains against the Cherokee Indians, who were committing murders
and depredations upon the frontier settlements. In January 1777, he
attached himself to the command of Captain William Chronicle, and
marched to the relief of the post of Ninety Six, in Abbeville county,
S.C., and after this service he returned to North Carolina.

About the 1st of November, 1779, his company was ordered to Charlotte,
at that time a place of rendezvous of soldiers for the surrounding
counties, and while there he received a special commission of captain,
conferred on him by General Rutherford. With his special command he
marched with other forces from Charlotte by way of Camden, to the
relief of Charleston, and fell in with Col. Hampton, at the Governor's
gate, near that city. Finding that place completely invested by the
British army, he remained but a short time, and returned to North
Carolina with Colonel Graham's regiment, about the 1st of June, 1780.

Being informed on the night of his arrival at home that the Tories
were embodied in strong force at Ramsour's Mill, near the present town
of Lincolnton, he immediately raised a small company and joined
General Davidson's battalion, General Rutherford commanding, encamped
at Colonel Dickson's plantation, three miles northwest of Tuckaseege
ford. General Rutherford broke up his encampment at that place, early
on the morning of the 20th of June, 1780, then sixteen miles from
Ramsour's Mill, and marched with his forces, expecting to unite with
Colonel Locke in making a joint attack upon the Tories, but failed to
reach the scene of conflict until two hours after the battle. The
Tories had been signally defeated and routed by Colonel Locke and his
brave associates, and about fifty made prisoners, among the number a
brother of Colonel Moore, the commander of the Tory forces.

Immediately after this battle he received orders from Colonels
Johnston and Dickson to proceed with his company to Colonel Moore's
residence, six or seven miles west of the present town of Lincolnton,
and arrest that Tory leader, but he had fled with about thirty of his
follower's to Camden, S.C., where Cornwallis was then encamped. Soon
after this service Captain Martin was ordered to proceed with his
company to Rugeley's Mill, in Kershaw county, S.C. Here Colonel
Rugeley, the Tory commander, had assembled a considerable force, and
fortified his log barn and dwelling house. Colonel Washington, by
order of General Morgan, had pursued him with his cavalry, but having
no artillery, he resorted to an ingenious stratagem to capture the
post without sacrificing his own men. Accordingly he mounted a _pine
log_, fashioned as a cannon, elevated on its own limbs, and placed it
in position to command the houses in which the Tories were lodged.
Colonel Washington then made a formal demand for immediate surrender.
Colonel Rugeley fearing the destructive consequences of the formidable
cannon bearing upon his command in the log barn and dwelling house,
after a stipulation as to terms, promptly surrendered his whole force,
consisting of one hundred and twelve men, without a gun being fired on
either side. It was upon the reception of the news of this surrender
that Cornwallis wrote to Tarleton, "Rugeley will not be made a

After this successful stratagem, seldom equaled during the war,
Captain Martin was ordered to march with his company in pursuit of
Colonel Cunningham, (commonly called "bloody Bill Cunningham") a Tory
leader, encamped on Fishing creek, but he fled so rapidly he could not
overtake him. During the latter part of August and the whole of
September, Captain Martin was rarely at home, and then not remaining
for more than two days at a time. About the last week of September he
marched with his company by a circuitous route, under Colonel Graham,
to the Cowpens. There he united with Colonels Campbell, Shelby,
Sevier, Cleaveland and other officers and marched with them to King's
Mountain. In this battle Captain Martin acted a conspicuous part, was
in the _thickest of the fight_, and lost six of his company. After
this battle he continued in active scouting duties wherever his
services were needed.

When Cornwallis marched through Lincoln county in pursuit of General
Morgan, encumbered with upwards of five hundred prisoners, captured at
the Cowpens, he was ordered to harass his advance as much as possible.
A short time after Cornwallis crossed the Catawba at Cowan's Ford, he
marched as far as Salisbury, when he was ordered by Colonel Dickson to
convey some prisoners to Charlotte. Having performed this service, he
proceeded to Guilford Court house, but did not reach that place until
after the battle. He then returned home, and was soon after

In October 1833, Captain Martin, when _one hundred and one years_ old,
was granted a pension by the general government. He was a worthy and
consistent member of the Associate Reformed Church, and died on the
26th of November, 1836, aged _one hundred and four years!_ He married
in Ireland, Margaret McCurdy, who also attained an extreme old age,
and both are buried in Goshen graveyard, in Gaston county.


Samuel Caldwell was born in Orange County, N.C., on the 10th of
February, 1759, and moved to Tryon county, afterward Lincoln, in 1772.
He first entered the service in Captain Gowen's company in 1776, and
marched against the Cherokee Indians beyond the mountains. In 1779, he
volunteered (in Captain William Chronicle's company) in the "nine
months service," and joined General Lincoln's army at Purysburg, S.C.
In March, 1780, he joined Captain Isaac White's company, and marched
to King's Mountain. In the battle which immediately followed, he and
his brother, William actively participated. Shortly after this
celebrated victory, he attached himself to Captain Montgomery's
company and was in the battle of the Cowpens, fought on the 17th of
January, 1781. Soon afterward he marched to Guilford, and was in the
battle fought there on the 15th of March, 1781. In the following fall,
he substituted for Clement Nance, in Captain Lemmonds cavalry company
in the regiment commanded by Col. Robert Smith and Major Joseph

At the Raft Swamp, they attacked and signally defeated a large body of
Tories; and in two days afterward defeated a band of Tories on Alfred
Moore's plantation opposite Wilmington. On the next day, the same
troops made a vigorous attack on the garrison, near the same place.
After this service, he returned home and was frequently engaged in
other minor but important military duties until the close of the war.

After the war, Captain Caldwell settled on a farm three miles
southwest of Tuckaseege Ford where he raised a large family. He was a
kind and obliging neighbor, attained a good old age, and is buried in
the graveyard of Goshen church, Gaston county N.C.


Captain John Mattocks was one of the brave soldiers who fell at King's
Mountain. He belonged to a family who resided a few miles below
Armstrong's Ford, on the south fork of the Catawba river, at what is
now known as the "Alison old place." There were three brothers and two
sisters, Sallie and Barbara. The whole family, men and women, had the
reputation of being "_uncommonly stout_." John and Charles Mattocks
were staunch Whigs, ever ready to engage in any enterprise in defence
of the freedom of their country, but Edward Mattocks (commonly called
Ned Mattocks) was a Tory. All of the brothers were at the battle of
King's Mountain, in which Captain Charles Mattocks was killed early in
the action when pressing forward with undaunted courage against the
enemy. Among the severely wounded, was Ned Mattocks, the Tory brother.
After the battle and signal victory, Charles Mattocks, fearing his
brother might be hung with some others who suffered this penalty on
the next day, kindly interceded in his behalf, took him home and
nursed him carefully until he recovered of his wound. It is said, this
_extraction of blood_ so effectually performed by some one of the
gallant Whigs on that occasion, completely _cured_ Ned Mattocks of
_Toryism_ and caused him never afterward to unite with the enemies of
his country. The whole surviving family a few years after the war
moved to Georgia, where they have descendants at the present time.

Major Chronicle, Captain Mattocks, William Rabb and John Boyd, all
from the same South Fork neighborhood, are buried in a common grave at
the foot of the mountain.

A plain head-stone of dark slate rock, commemorates the hallowed spot
with the following inscription:

     "Sacred to the memory of

     "Who were killed here fighting in defence of America, On the
     7th of October, 1780."

Many fragmentary but interesting incidents connected with the battle
of King's Mountain have come down to our own time and unfortunately,
many others have been buried in oblivion. The following incident was
related to the author by a grandson of a brave soldier in that battle.
Moses and James Henry both actively participated in that hotly
contested engagement.

A few days after the battle, as James Henry was passing through the
woods near the scene of conflict, he found a very fine horse,
handsomely equipped with an elegant saddle, the reins of the bridle
being broken. The horse and equipments were, as he supposed, the
property of an officer. He took the horse home with him, considerably
elated with his good luck; but his mother met him at the gate, and
immediately inquired whose horse it was he had in charge, he replied,
he supposed it belonged to some British officer. "James," said the
mother, "turn it loose and drive it off from the place, for I will not
have the hands of my household stained with British plunder."

The incident illustrates the noble Christian spirit which actuated our
good mothers of the Revolutionary period.

The other brother, Moses Henry, evinced great bravery in the same
engagement, and was mortally wounded. He was taken to the hospital in
Charlotte, and was attentively waited upon by Dr. William McLean until
he died. His widow, with several others under similar bereavement, was
granted a liberal allowance by the county court of Lincoln. Moses
Henry is the grandfather of Col. Moses Henry Hand, a worthy citizen of
Gaston county, N.C.


William Rankin was born in Pennsylvania, on the 10th of January, 1761,
and at an early age joined the tide of emigration to the Southern
States, and settled in "Tryon," afterward Lincoln county, N.C.

He first entered the service as a private in Captain Robert
Alexander's company, Colonel William Graham's regiment, and marched to
Montfort's Cove against the Cherokee Indians. In 1779 he volunteered
under the same officer, and marched by way of Charlotte and Camden to
the relief of Charleston, but finding the city completely invested by
the British army, the regiment returned to North Carolina. In 1780, he
again volunteered under Major Dickson, and marched against Col. Floyd,
a Tory leader of upper South Carolina. After this service he returned
home, and soon afterward marched under the same officer, General
Rutherford commanding, to Ramsour's Mill, where a large body of Tories
had assembled under Colonel John Moore. The forces under General
Rutherford were encamped on Colonel Dickson's plantation, three miles
north-west of Tuckaseege Ford, and about sixteen miles from Ramsour's.
Early on the morning of the 20th of June, 1780, they broke up camp and
moved forward, but did not reach the battle-field until two hours
after the action had taken place, and the Tories defeated by Colonel
Locke and his brave associates, with a force greatly inferior to that
of the enemy. Immediately after this battle, he substituted for Henry
E. Locke, in Captain William Armstrong's company, marched to Park's
Mill, near Charlotte, and thence to General Rutherford's army,
encamped at Phifer's plantation.

The Tories having assembled a considerable force at Coulson's Mill,
General Davidson with a detachment of troops vigorously attacked them,
in which skirmish he (Davidson) was severely wounded, detaining him
from the service about two months. Soon afterward he marched with
General Rutherford's command to Camden and participated in the
unfortunate battle at that place on the 16th of August, 1780. While
the British army were in Charlotte he served under Captain Forney and
Major Dickson, watching the movements of the enemy. Shortly afterward
he volunteered under Captain James Little, marched to Rocky Mount, and
thence to the Eutaw Springs. In this battle, one of the most severely
contested during the Revolution, his company was placed under the
command of Colonel Malmedy, a Frenchman. Soon after his return home he
was placed in charge of a considerable number of prisoners, and in
obedience to orders, conveyed them to Salisbury. Here he remained
until his time of service expired, and then received his discharge
from Colonel Locke.

William Rankin attained the good old age of nearly ninety-three, and
was at the time of his death the last surviving soldier of the
Revolution in Gaston county. He married Mary Moore, a sister of
General John Moore, also a soldier of the Revolution. His wife
preceded him several years to the tomb.

His son, Colonel Richard Rankin, is now (1876) living at the old
homestead, having passed "his three score years and ten." He served
several times in the State Legislature, is an industrious farmer and
worthy citizen of Gaston county.


General John Moore was born in Lincoln county, when a part of Anson,
in 1759. His father, William Moore, of Scotch-Irish descent, was one
of the first settlers of the county and a prominent member of society.
He had four sons, James, William, John and Alexander, who, inheriting
the liberty-loving principles of that period, were all true patriots
in the Revolutionary war.

John Moore performed a soldier's duty on several occasions and was one
of the guards stationed at Tuckaseege Ford, watching the movements of
Lord Cornwallis after his entrance into Lincoln county. He also acted
for a considerable length of time as Commissary to the army. General
Moore married a sister of General John Adair, of Kentucky, by whom he
had many children. Several years after her death, he married Mary
Scott, widow of James Scott, and daughter of Captain Robert Alexander
by whom he had two children, Lee Alexander and Elizabeth Moore. He was
a member of the House of Commons as early as 1788, and served for many
years subsequently with great fidelity and to the general acceptance
of his constituents.

To remove a false impression, sometimes entertained by persons little
conversant with our Revolutionary history, it should be here stated
that General John Moore was in no way related to the _Colonel John
Moore_, (son of Moses Moore), who lived about seven miles west of
Lincolton, and commanded the Tory forces in the battle of Ramsour's

General Moore, after a life of protracted usefulness, died in 1836,
with Christian resignation, aged about seventy-seven years, and lies
buried near several of his kindred in Goshen graveyard, Gaston county,


Elisha Withers was born in Stafford county, Va., on the 10th of
August, 1762. His first service in the Revolutionary war was in 1780,
acting for twelve months as Commissary in furnishing provisions for
the soldiers stationed at Captain Robert Alexander's, near the
Tuckaseege Ford on the Catawba river, their place of rendezvous. After
this service, he was drafted and served a tour of three months under
Captain Thomas Loftin and Lieut. Robert Shannon, and marched from
Lincoln county to Guilford Court-house under Colonels Locke and Hunt.
His time having expired shortly before the battle, he returned home.

He again served another tour, commencing in August, 1781, as a
substitute for James Withers, under Captain James Little, at the Eutaw
Springs, where he was detailed with a few others, to guard the baggage
wagons during the battle. He again volunteered under Captain Thomas
Loftin and Lieut. Thomas McGee and was actively engaged in the "horse
service," in several scouting expeditions until the close of the war.

After the war, he was for a long time known as "old Constable
Withers," was highly respected, and died at a good old age.



Cleaveland county was formed in 1841, from Lincoln and Rutherford
counties and derives its name from Col. Benjamin Cleaveland, of Wilkes
county, who, with a detachment of men from that county and Surry,
under the commands of himself, and Major Joseph Winston, performed a
magnanimous part in the battle of King's Mountain. Shelby, the capital
of this county, derives its name from Col. Isaac Shelby, a sketch of
whose services with those of Colonels Campbell, Graham, Hambright and
Williams will appear in the present chapter.


     "O'er the proud heads of free men, our star banner waves;
     Men firm as their mountains, and still as their graves,
     To-morrow shall pour out their life-blood like rain;
     We come back in triumph, or come not again."

After the defeat of General Gates at Camden, on the 16th of August,
1780, and the surprise and defeat of Gen. Sumter, two days after at
Fishing Creek, by Col. Tarleton, the South was almost entirely
abandoned to the enemy. It was one of the darkest periods of our
Revolutionary history. While Cornwallis remained at Camden, he was
busily employed in sending off his prisoners to Charleston and
Orangeburg; in ascertaining the condition of his distant posts at
ninety-six and Augusta, and in establishing civil government in South
Carolina. Yet his success did not impair his vigilance in concerting
measures for its continuance. West of the Catawba river, were bands of
active Whigs, and parties of those who were defeated at Camden, were
harrassing their enemies and defending on every available occasion,
the suffering inhabitants of the upper country. Cornwallis, becoming
apprised of this rebellious spirit of upper Carolina, detached Col.
Patrick Ferguson, one of his most favorite officers, with one hundred
and ten regulars and about the same number of Tories, under captain
Depeyster, a loyalist, with an ample supply of arms and other military
stores. He was ordered to embody the loyalists beyond the Catawba (or
Wateree as the same river is called opposite Camden) and the Broad
rivers; intercept the "mountain men", who were retreating from Camden,
and also, the Americans under Col. Clarke, of Georgia, falling back
from an unsuccessful attack upon Augusta. Ferguson's special orders
were to crush the spirit of rebellion still too rife and menacing; and
after scouring the upper part of South Carolina, toward the mountains
of North Carolina, to join his Lordship at Charlotte. He at first made
rapid marches to overtake the mountain men--the "Hornets," from the
"Switzerland of America," and cut off Col. Clarke's forces. Failing in
this, he afterward moved more slowly and frequently halted to collect
all the Tories he could persuade to join him. He crossed Broad river,
ravaging the country through which he marched. About the last of
September he encamped at Gilberttown, near the present town of
Rutherfordton. la his march to this point, his force-increased to
upwards of one thousand men. All of his Tory recruits were furnished
with arms, most of them with rifles, and a smaller portion with
muskets, to the muzzles of which they fixed the large knives they
usually carried with them to be used as bayonets, if occasion should

Although Ferguson failed to overtake the detachment of "mountain men,"
previously alluded to, he took two of them prisoners who had become
separated from their command. These he paroled and sent off, enjoining
them to tell the officers on the western waters that if they did not
desist from their opposition to the British arms, and take protection
under the royal standard, he would march his army over the mountains
and lay waste their country with fire and sword. This was no idle
threat, and its execution would have been attempted had not a brief
stay in Gilberttown satisfied him from the reports of his spies that a
storm of patriotic indignation was brewing among and beyond the
mountains that was destined soon to descend in all its fury upon his
own army. He knew that most of the inhabitants were of Scotch-Irish
and Huguenot descent, mingled with many Germans, whose long residence
in the wilds of America had greatly tended to increase their love of

As soon as General McDowell heard that Gates was defeated, he broke up
his camp at Smith's Ford on Broad River, and passed beyond the
mountains, accompanied by a few of his unyielding patriots. While
there in consultation with Colonels Sevier and Shelby as to the best
means for raising troops and repelling the invaders, the two paroled
men arrived and delivered the message from Ferguson. It produced no
terrific effects on the minds of these well-tried officers, but on the
contrary tended to stimulate and quicken their patriotic exertions. It
was soon decided that each one should use his best efforts to raise
all the men that could be enlisted, and that these forces should
assemble at the Sycamore Shoals of the Watauga river, on the 25th of
September. The plans for raising a sufficient number of men to
accomplish their purpose were speedily devised and carried into
execution. To Col. Sevier was assigned the duty of communicating with
Col. McDowell and other officers in voluntary exile beyond the
mountains. To Col. Shelby was assigned a similar duty of writing to
Col. Campbell of the adjoining county of Washington, in Virginia.
Among the refugees beyond the mountains was Col. Clarke, of Georgia,
with about one hundred of his overpowered but not subdued men. Their
story of the sufferings endured by the Whig inhabitants of upper South
Carolina and Georgia served to arouse and intensify the state of
patriotic feeling among the hardy sons of Western North Carolina.

The enlisted troops assembled at the Sycamore Shoals, marched from
that place on the 26th of September. They were all mounted, and
unencumbered with baggage expecting to support themselves partly by
their trusty rifles from the game of the forest, as they progressed
and partly by compelling the Tories to minister to their wants. The
assembled forces placed under marching orders, were as follows: From
Washington county, Va., under Col. William Campbell, four hundred men.
From Sullivan county, N.C. (now in Tennessee) under Col. Isaac Shelby,
two hundred and forty men. From Washington county, N.C. (now in
Tennessee) under Col John Sevier, two hundred and forty men. From
Burke and Rutherford counties, N.C., under Col. Charles McDowell, one
hundred and sixty men. On the second day's march, two of their men
deserted, and went ahead to the enemy. It is probable their report of
the Whig strength accelerated Ferguson's retreating movements. On the
30th of September, they crossed the mountains and were joined at the
head of the Catawba river by Col. Benjamin Cleaveland and Major Joseph
Winston, with three hundred and fifty men from Wilkes and Surry
counties. Upon the junction of these forces, the officers held a
council and as they were all of equal grade, it was agreed that a
messenger be dispatched immediately to head-quarters, supposed to be
between Charlotte and Salisbury to get General Sumner or Gen. Davidson
to assume the chief command. They were now in Col. Charles McDowell's
military district, and being the senior officer, the chief command
properly devolved upon him, unless his right, for the present, should
be waived, and by agreement, turned over to another. Col. Shelby
proposed, mainly through courtesy, that Col. William Campbell, who had
met them with the largest regiment from a sister State, should assume
the chief command until the arrival of some superior officer. This
proposition was readily assented to, and Col. Charles McDowell
volunteered his services to proceed to headquarters, and requested his
brother, Major Joseph McDowell, to take command of his regiment until
his return.

On the 4th of October the riflemen--the "mountain boys,"--advanced to
Gilberttown, unwilling that Ferguson should be at the trouble to
"cross the mountains and hang their leaders," as boastfully
promulgated only a few days before.

Ferguson's abrupt departure and retrograde movement from Gilberttown,
like that of Cornwallis from Charlotte two weeks later, clearly
betrayed his apprehensions of formidable opposition by the enraged
"hornets" of the mountains. Pursuit was immediately determined upon,
and the Whig forces reached the celebrated Cowpens on the 6th of
October, where they were joined by Col. James D. Williams, of South
Carolina, with nearly four hundred men, and about sixty men from
Lincoln county, under Lieut. Colonel Hambright. (Col. William Graham,
of the same regiment, on account of severe sickness in his family, was
not in the battle fought on the next day.) It is also known a company
was raised under Capt. Shannon, from the same county, but failed to
reach the battle-ground in time for the engagement.

On the evening of the 6th of October the Colonels in council
unanimously resolved that they would select all the men and horses fit
for service, and immediately pursue Ferguson until they should
overtake him, leaving the remaining troops to follow after them as
fast as possible. Accordingly, nine hundred and ten men a mounted
infantry, were selected, who set out about eight o'clock on the same
evening and marched all night, taking Fergusons trail toward Deer's
Ferry, on Broad river. Night coming on, and it being very dark, they
got out of the right way, and for some time were lost, but before
daylight they nearly reached the ferry. The officers thinking it
probable that the enemy might be in possession of the eastern bank of
the river, directed the pilot to lead them to the Cherokee ford, about
one mile and a half below. It was on the morning of the 7th of
October, before sunrise, when they crossed the river and marched about
two miles to the place where Ferguson had encamped on the night of the
5th. There they halted a short time and took such breakfast as their
wallets and saddlebags would afford. Every hour the trail of the enemy
became more clearly visible, which served to quicken their movements
and exhilarate their patriotic spirits. About the time they marched
from the Cowpens they were informed a party of four or five hundred
Tories were assembled at Major Gibbs, about four miles to the right;
these they did not turn aside to attack. The riflemen from the
mountains had turned out to _catch Ferguson_. This was their rallying
cry from the day they left the Sycamore Shoals, on the Watauga, to the
present opportune moment for accomplishing their patriotic purpose.
For the last thirty six hours they had alighted from their horses but
once at the Cowpens for one hour's rest and, refreshment. As soon as
their humble repast was finished on the morning of the 7th, at
Ferguson's encampment, on the 5th just alluded to, the riflemen
resumed their eager march. The day was showery, which compelled them
to use their blankets and overcoats to prevent their arms from getting

After marching about ten miles, the riflemen met a young man named
John Fonderin, riding in great haste from Ferguson's camp, then
scarcely three miles distant Col. Hambright being acquainted with him
and knowing that he had relatives in the enemy's camp, caused him to
be arrested. Upon searching his person, he was found to have a fresh
dispatch from Ferguson to Cornwallis, then at Charlotte, in which he
manifested great anxiety as to his situation and earnestly solicited
aid. The contents of the dispatch was read to the privates, without
stating Ferguson's superior strength to discourage them. Col.
Hambright then interrogated the young man as to Ferguson's uniform. He
replied by saying, "Ferguson was the best uniformed man on the hill,
but they would not see his uniform as be wore a checked shirt (duster)
over it." Col. Hambright immediately called the attention of his men
to this distinguishing feature of Ferguson's dress. "Well _poys_, says
he, in broken German, _when you see that man mit a pig shirt on over
his clothes you may know who him is_." Accordingly after the battle,
his body was found among the dead, wearing the checked shirt, now
crimsoned with blood and pierced with numerous balls. After a brief
consultation of the chief officers upon horseback, the plan of attack
was quickly arranged. Several persons present were well acquainted
with the ground upon which the enemy was encamped. Orders were
promptly given and as promptly obeyed. The Whig forces moved forward
over King's Creek, and up a ravine, and between two rocky knobs, when
soon the enemy's camp was seen about one hundred poles in front.
Ferguson, aware that he was hotly pursued by a band of patriots of
determined bravery, had chosen this mountain elevation as one from
which he boastingly proclaimed he could not be driven.

It was about 3 o'clock in the afternoon when the Whig forces reached
the battle ground. The rain had ceased, the clouds had nearly passed
away, the sun now shone brightly, and nature seemed to smile
propitiously upon the sanguinary conflict soon to take place. On the
march, the following disposition was made of the Whig forces.

The central column was commanded by Colonels Campbell and Shelby; the
right, by Colonel Sevier and Major McDowell; and the left by Colonels
Cleaveland and Williams. In this order the Whig forces advanced and
came within a quarter of a mile of the enemy before they were
discovered. Colonels Campbell's and Shelby's regiments commenced the
attack, and kept up a galling fire on the enemy, while the right and
left wings were advancing forward to surround them, which was done in
about five minutes. The fire soon became general all around and
maintained with the greatest bravery.

The engagement lasted a little over an hour, during which time, a
heavy and incessant fire was kept up on both sides.

The Whigs, in some parts where the British regulars fought, were
forced to give way two or three times for a short distance, before the
bayonet charges of the enemy, but soon rallied and returned with
additional ardor and animation to the attack. The troops of the right
having gained the summit of the mountain, compelled the enemy to give
way and retreat along the top of the ridge, where Col. Cleaveland
commanded and were soon stopped by his brave men. Some of the
regiments suffered severely under the galling fire of the enemy,
before they were in a proper position to engage in the action. The men
led by Col. Shelby and Major McDowell were soon closely engaged and
the contest throughout was very severe, and hotly contested.

As Ferguson would advance towards Campbell, Sevier, Hambright and
Winston, he was quickly pursued by Shelby, Cleaveland, McDowell and
Williams. Thus Ferguson continued to struggle on, making charges with
the bayonet and then retreating to make a vigorous attack at some
other point; but, his men were rapidly falling before the fatal aim
and persistent bravery of the Whigs.

Even after Ferguson was severely wounded and had three horses shot
from under him, he continued to fight on, and animate his men by his
example and unyielding courage--"extricate himself, he could not, and
surrender, he would not," although requested to do so, near the close
of the action by Captain De Peyster, his second in command. At length
he received a fatal shot in the breast, which closed his earthly
career forever.

Captain De Peyster then look command, and immediately ordered a white
flag to be raised in token of surrender. The firing however did not
entirely cease until Cols. Shelby and Sevier went inside the lines and
ordered the men to desist. The Whigs were still greatly exasperated
when they called to remembrance Tarleton's cruelty at Buford's defeat,
where no quarter was given. The victory was complete, and reanimated
the Whigs throughout the whole country. The Tory element of western
Carolina, before strong and menacing, was broken up and greatly
humbled, and Cornwallis himself when he received intelligence of the
battle and its result, became so seriously alarmed at his perilous
situation in a land of _assailing hornets_, that he suddenly decamped
from Charlotte to safer quarters at Winnsboro, South Carolina.

According to the official statement furnished to Gen. Gates, encamped
at Hillsboro, and signed by Colonels Campbell, Shelby and Cleaveland,
the enemy sustained the following loss:

     "Of the regulars, one major, one captain, two Lieutenants
     and fifteen privates killed, thirty-five privates wounded
     and left on the ground not able to march; two captains, four
     lieutenants, three ensigns, one surgeon, five sergeants,
     three corporals, one drummer and fifty-nine privates taken

     "Loss of the Tories, two colonels, three captains and two
     hundred privates killed; one major, and one hundred and
     twenty-seven privates wounded and left on the ground not
     able to march; one colonel, twelve captains, eleven
     lieutenants, two ensigns, one quarter-master, one adjutant,
     two commissaries, eighteen sergeants and six hundred
     privates taken prisoners.

     "Total loss of the enemy eleven hundred and five men at
     King's Mountain."

The loss on the Whig side was, one colonel, one major, one captain,
two lieutenants, four ensigns, and nineteen privates killed, one
major, three captains, three lieutenants, and fifty-three privates
wounded. Total Whig casualties, twenty-eight killed and sixty wounded.
Of the latter, upwards of twenty died of their wounds, making the
entire Whig loss about fifty men.

The victory of King's Mountain was the "turning point of the fortunes
of America," and foreshadowed more clearly than ever before, _final

As soon as the battle was over, a guard was placed around the
prisoners and all remained on the mountain that night. On the next
day, after the dead were buried and the wounded properly cared for,
the cumbrous spoils of victory were drawn into a pile and burned.
Colonels Campbell, Shelby and Cleaveland then repaired, with as little
delay as possible, to the headquarters of General Gates, at Hillsboro,
and made out to that officer on the 1st of November, an official
statement of their brilliant victory. Col. Sevier, Major McDowell and
other officers returned to the mountains and to their own
neighborhoods, ready at all times, to obey any future calls of their
country. The prisoners were turned over to the "mountain men" for safe
keeping. Having no conveyances, they compelled the prisoners to carry
the captured arms (about fifteen hundred in number) two guns each
being assigned to most of the men. About sunset the Whigs who had
fought the battle, being extremely hungry, had the pleasure of meeting
the footmen, who had been left behind at Green river on their march to
King's Mountain, pressing forward with a good supply of provisions.

Having appeased the cravings of hunger, they all marched to
Bickerstaff's old field, in Rutherford county, where the principal
officers held a court-martial over the "most audacious and murderous
Tories." Thirty-two were condemned to be hung; after nine were thus
disposed of, three at a time, the remainder, through mitigating
circumstances and the entreaties of their Whig acquaintances, were
respited. Several of the Tories, thus leniently dealt with, afterward
joined the Whig ranks, and made good soldiers to the end of the war.

In 1815, through the instrumentality of Dr. William M'Lean, of Lincoln
county, a head-stone of dark slate rock, was erected at King's
Mountain, near the spot where Ferguson fell. It bears this
inscription: On the east:

     "Sacred to the memory of Maj. Wm. Chronicle, Capt. John
     Mattocks, William Robb and John Boyd, who were killed at
     this place on the 7th of October, 1780, fighting in defence
     of America."

On the west side:--"Col. Ferguson, an officer of his Brittanic
Majesty, was defeated and killed at this place on the 7th of October,

Incidents: Among the captured Tories were Captain W---- G---- and his
lieutenant J---- L----, both of whom were sentenced to be hung next
morning at sunrise. They were first tied separately, with leather
strings, and then closely together. During the night they managed to
crawl to the waters edge, near their place of confinement, and wet
their strings; this soon caused them to stretch so greatly as to
enable the _leather-bound prisoners_ to make their escape, and thereby
deprive the "Mountain Boys" of having some contemplated fun. Like the
Irishman's pig, in the morning "they came up _missing_."

As a foraging party of Tories, belonging to Ferguson's army, was
passing up King's Creek, they took old Arthur Patterson and his son
Thomas prisoners; who, being recognized as noted Whigs, were carried
to Ferguson's camp, threatened with hanging, and a guard placed over
them. As the battle waxed warm and the issue of the contest seemed to
be turning in favor of the American arms a call was made upon the
guard to fall into line and assist their comrades in averting, if
possible, their approaching defeat. During the commotion the old man
Patterson moved gently to the back ground and thus made his escape.
Thomas Patterson, not liking the _back movement_, watched his
opportunity, _between fires_ and charge of the enemies' position,
dashed off boldly to the Whig lines, about one hundred yards distant,
and reached them safely. He immediately called for a gun, which being
furnished he fought bravely to the close of the engagement.

For several particulars connected with the battle of Kings Mountain,
hitherto unknown, the author acknowledges his indebtedness to Abraham
Hardin, Esq., a native of Lincoln County, N.C., and relative of Col.
Hambright, now (1876) a worthy, intelligent, and christian citizen of
York County, S.C., aged eighty-seven years.


Colonel William Campbell was a native of Augusta County, Va. He was of
Scottish descent (his grandfather coming from Inverary) and possessed
all the fire and sagacity of his ancestors. He assisted in raising the
first regular troops in Virginia in 1775, and was honored with a
Captain's commission. In 1776 he was made Lieutenant Colonel of the
militia of Washington County, Va., and on the resignation of Evan
Shelby, the father of Governor Shelby, he was promoted to the rank of
Colonel, that rank he retained until after the battles of King's
Mountain and Guilford Court-House, in both of which he distinguished
himself, when he was promoted by the Virginia Legislature, for
gallantry and general high merit, to the rank of Brigadier General in
the Continental service. La Fayette, perceiving his fine military
talents, gave him the command of a brigade of riflemen and light
infantry, and he was ordered to join that officer below Richmond, who
was covering Washington's approach to Yorktown in September 1781,
previous to the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown on the 19th of
October following.

Colonel Campbell, suffering from the severe wound received in the
battle of Guilford, was taken ill and soon after died at La Fayette's
head-quarters, about twenty-five miles above Williamsburg, in the
thirty-sixth year of his age. His military career was short, but
brilliant; and on all occasions, bravery, unsullied patriotism and
manly rectitude of conduct marked his movements. La Fayette's general
order, on the occasion of his decease is most highly complimentary to
his efficient services and exalted worth. He is buried at Rocky Mills,
in Hanover county, Va. About forty years afterward, his remains were
removed to Washington county, to repose with those of his family.

Col. Campbell married a sister of Patrick Henry and left but one
child, the mother of the late Hon. William C. Preston and Col. John S.
Preston, both of Columbia, S.C. He was a man of high culture, a good
classical scholar, but was chiefly given to the accurate sciences and
_practically_ to land surveying for himself and his kindred who were
large land-holders in Virginia, east Tennessee and Kentucky. When
under thirty years of age, he commanded a company in the Point
Pleasant expedition on the Kenhawa river, in which occurred one of the
most sanguinary battles in the history of Indian warfare and there
acquired that early experience in arms which qualified him to perform
a conspicuous part in the Revolutionary War.

When the emergency arose for expelling the boasting Ferguson from the
soil of the Carolinas, Col. Sevier sought the assistance and
co-operation of Col. Campbell, of Virginia, whose bravery and
gallantry had become widely known. On the first application, Col.
Campbell deemed it imprudent to withdraw his forces from their place
of rendezvous, for fear of an attack from the neighboring Indians, but
on a second urgent application, his assent yielded to the appeals of
patriotism and he promptly marched with his regiment to co-operate
with Colonels Sevier, Shelby and other officers to gain an undying
fame, and glorious victory at King's Mountain.

The preceding statement of facts, corrects an error into which several
historians have unintentionally fallen by confounding Lieut. Col.
Campbell, a brave officer of a South Carolina regiment, who was
mortally wounded at the battle of the Eutaw Springs, with Col. Wm.
Campbell, of Virginia, one of the heroes of King's Mountain, who died
a natural death in his native State a few weeks before the surrender
of Cornwallis at Yorktown. The two officers were of no close family
relationship, but resembled each other in unflinching bravery and
genuine exhibitions of true patriotism.


Col. Isaac Shelby was born in Maryland, near the North mountain, a few
miles from Hagerstown, on the 11th of December, 1750. He was the son
of General Evan Shelby, a native of Wales, who came to America when a
mere youth. General Shelby was distinguished for his indomitable
courage, iron constitution, and clear intellect. He served as a
Captain of Rangers under Gen. Braddock, and acted bravely in the
attack under General Forbes in 1758, in which he led the advance, and
took from the French Fort Du Quesne. In 1772, he removed to the west
and in 1774, commanded a company under Colonel Lewis and Governor
Dunmore against the Indians, on the Scioto river. He was in the
sanguinary battle of Kenhawa, October 10th, 1774, when Colonels Lewis,
Fleming and Field were killed and he was left the commanding officer.

In 1779, he led a strong force against the Chickamauga Indians, on the
Tennessee river; and for his services and gallantry, was appointed a
Brigadier General by the State of Virginia; the first officer ever
vested with that grade on the western waters.

Thomas Shelby, a brother of Gen. Evan Shelby, joined the great tide of
southern emigration and settled on Caldwell's Creek, in the eastern
part of Mecklenburg county (now Cabarrus) about 1760. He died near the
beginning of the Revolutionary war, leaving four sons, William, John,
Evan and Thomas. One of these sons (Thomas) served as a private in
Captain Charles Polk's company in the spring of 1776, in the
Wilmington campaign.

Col. Isaac Shelby, the immediate subject of this sketch was born to
the use of arms, blessed with a strong constitution and capable of
enduring great exposure and fatigue. His whole educational training
was such as fitted him for the stirring scenes in which he was
destined by Providence to become so prominent an actor.

His first essay in arms was as a Lieutenant in a company commanded by
his father, in the celebrated battle, previously mentioned, at the
mouth of the Kenhawa, the most sanguinary conflict ever maintained
against the northwestern Indians, the action lasting from sunrise to
sunset, with varying success.

Night closed the conflict and under its cover, the celebrated chief
_Cornstalk_, who commanded the Indians, abandoned the ground. In July,
1776, he was appointed Captain of a company of minute men by the
Virginia committee of safety. In 1777, he was appointed by Governor
Henry, a commissary of supplies for an extensive body of troops to
guard the frontiers and one of the commissioners appointed to form a
treaty with the Cherokees at the Long Island of the Holston river. In
1778, he was elected a member of the Virginia Legislature from
Washington county, and was appointed by Thomas Jefferson, then
Governor of that State, a Major in the escort of guards for the
commissioners, engaged in running the line between Virginia and North
Carolina. On the completion of that line, his residence was found to
be in North Carolina, which circumstance induced Richard Caswell, then
Governor of the State, to appoint him Colonel of the militia of
Sullivan county. In the summer of 1780, he was engaged in Kentucky in
surveying, locating and securing the lands which five years
previously, he had marked out, and improved. It was at this time, that
he heard of the surrender of Charleston. This disaster aroused his
patriotic spirit, and caused him to return home, determined to enter
the service of his bleeding country and never to leave it until her
liberty and independence were secured. On his arrival at home, he
found a requisition from General Charles McDowell to furnish all the
aid in his power to check the enemy, who flushed with their late
success in overrunning South Carolina and Georgia, had entered North
Carolina with a similar object in view. He immediately sought
enlistments from the militia of Sullivan county and in a few days
crossed the mountains at the head of two hundred and forty riflemen.

He reported to Gen. McDowell near the Cherokee Ford, on Broad river,
and was by that officer detached, with Colonels Sevier and Clarke, to
surprise and take a fort held by Captain Patrick Moore, a noted Tory
leader, on the Palcolet river. This service was promptly executed
without losing any of his men. The fort was surrounded, and, after a
short parley as to terms the enemy surrendered as prisoners of war.

Captain Moore, one British Major, ninety-three Tories and two hundred
and fifty stands of arms and their ammunition greatly needed at that
time, were the fruits of this victory.

It was at this period that Major Ferguson of the British army, in his
progress to the mountains of North Carolina, made several attempts to
surprise Col. Shelby, but in every instance, he was baffled through
his vigilance and activity.

On the first of August, 1780, the advance of the British force came up
and attacked Shelby at Cedar Springs. The situation had been chosen by
Shelby and his martial, adventurous spirit did not avoid the issue of
battle. A sharp and animated conflict ensued, which lasted half an
hour, when the whole force of Ferguson advanced to the scene of
action. Shelby deemed it prudent to retreat before superior numbers,
carrying off as the fruits of his victory thus far obtained, fifty
prisoners, including two British officers. The enemy made a rapid
pursuit, but Shelby, availing himself of every advantageous ground,
completely eluded their efforts to overtake him and soon afterward
joined Gen. McDowell with only a loss of ten or twelve killed and

On the 19th of August, 1780, Colonels Shelby, Williams and Clarke,
under orders from Gen. McDowell, again attacked, with seven hundred
mounted men, a large body of Tories near Musgrove's Mill, on the south
side of the Ennoree river. On the night of the 18th of August, these
officers left Smith's Ford on Broad river, took a circuitous route
through the woods to avoid Ferguson, whose whole force lay between,
and at dawn of day, after riding about forty miles, attacked the
patrol of the Tories, about half a mile from their camp. A brisk
skirmish ensued, several were killed, and the patrol driven in. At
this moment, a countryman living near informed Col. Shelby the enemy
on the night before had been re-inforced by a body of six hundred
regulars (the Queen's American regiment from New York) under Col.
Innis. This was unexpected news. Fatigued as were their horses,
retreat was impracticable; and to attack an enemy of such superior
force, would have been an act of rashness and the certain defeat of
his own little band of patriots.

Col. Shelby met the trying emergency with unflinching courage and
great promptness of action. It was agreed that Colonel Williams should
have the chief command. Accordingly, the whole Whig force, except
Capt. Inman's command, was ordered to form a breastwork of old logs
and brush, and make as brave a defence as circumstances permitted.
Capt. Inman, with twenty-five men was directed to proceed to the ford
of the river, fire across upon the enemy, and retreat when they
appeared in strong force. This stratagem being the suggestion of the
brave Capt. Inman, was successful. Col. Innis immediately crossed the
river to dislodge the "rebels." Capt. Inman and his little force
instantly retreated, hotly pursued by Innis until within the area of
the patriot ambuscade when a single shot by Col. Shelby gave the
signal for attack. The Whig riflemen, with sure and steady aim, opened
a destructive fire which was kept up for an hour, during which time
Col. Innis was wounded; all the British officers except a subaltern
were killed or wounded. The Tory Captain, Hawsey, and Major Fraser, of
the British regulars, with sixty-three privates were killed, and one
hundred and sixty made prisoners. The American loss was only four
killed and nine wounded. In the pursuit Captain Inman was killed
fighting hand to hand with the enemy. After this victory Col.
Williams, with the prisoners, encamped at the Cedar Spring, in
Spartanburg County and from thence proceeded to Charlotte, N.C.
Colonels Williams and Clarke then returned to the western frontier and
the prisoners under Maj. Hammond marched to Hillsboro.

Excited by this brilliant victory Col. Shelby prepared to attack the
British force at Ninety-six, about thirty miles distant, when an
express arrived from Gen. McDowell, with a letter from Governor
Caswell, dated on the battle ground of Camden, informing him of Gates'
defeat and advising him to get out of the way. This advice came in
good time, for on the next day a strong detachment from Ferguson's
army sallied forth to overtake the victors, but through the energy and
activity of Col. Shelby the designs of the enemy were completely

The brilliancy of the affair shone more brightly by the dark gloom
which now overspread the public mind in consequence of the defeat of
Gen. Gates at Camden. This caused Gen. McDowell to disband for the
present his little force and retire beyond the mountains. The whole
country was now apparently subjugated, the hopes of the patriot were
dimmed, and many took protection under the British standard. But the
brave spirits of the west, as firm as their native mountains, were
still undismayed; and, if for a moment subdued, they were not
conquered, and the fire of freedom glowed deeply in their patriotic

At this gloomy period, Col. Shelby, in consultation with Col. Charles
McDowell, proposed to Colonels Sevier and Campbell to raise a force as
quickly as possible from their several counties, and attack the
boasting Ferguson. A concert of action, and junction of their forces
were promptly agreed upon, the battle of Kings Mountain followed soon
thereafter, and the result is well known. It will be seen, the first
movement for organizing forces and bringing to a speedy accomplishment
this most decisive victory of the South originated in Western North

Inspired by this victory, the forces of North Carolina assembled under
General Davidson at New Providence, in Mecklenburg County, near the
South Carolina line. Gen. Smallwood, with Morgan's light corps and the
Maryland line advanced to the same point. Gen. Gates, with the remnant
of his army, and General Stevens with levies from Virginia enabled
General Greene, after he assumed the chief command in December, 1780,
to hold Cornwallis in check and frustrate his design, at that time, of
marching to Charlotte.

It was at the suggestion of Col. Shelby that General Greene sent out
the expedition which achieved the brilliant victory at the Cowpens. In
1781, Col. Shelby served under Gen. Marion, and with Col. Mayhem, was
in the skirmish near Monk's Corner. On attacking this post it
immediately surrendered with one hundred and fifty prisoners. Soon
afterward he obtained leave of absence from Gen. Marion to attend the
General Assembly of North Carolina, of which he was a member from
Sullivan County.

In 1782 he was again a member, and was appointed a Commissioner to
settle the preemption claims upon the Cumberland, and lay off the
lands allotted to the officers and soldiers south of where Nashville
now stands. He returned to Boonsboro on the April following where he
married Susanna Hart, whose father was one of the partners of Judge
Henderson. The liberties of his Country being nearly established he
devoted himself to his farm on the first pre-emption and settlement
granted in Kentucky. In May, 1792, he was elected the first Governor
of the new State. In 1812, a stormy period in our history, he was
again elected to the same position. When the war with Great Britain
broke out his well known energy and Revolutionary fame induced the
Legislature of Kentucky to solicit his services in the field. At the
head of four thousand volunteers he marched to the shores of Lake Erie
to assist Gen. Harrison in the celebrated battle of the Thames. For
his bravery in this battle, Congress honored him with a gold medal. In
1817 President Monroe appointed him his Secretary of War, but on
account of his advanced age he declined the honor. His last public act
was that of holding a treaty with the Chickasaw Indians, in 1818, in
which General Jackson was his colleague. In 1820 he was attacked with
a paralytic affection but his mind still remained unimpaired. In July,
1826, he expired from a stroke of apoplexy, in the seventy-sixth year
of his age, enjoying the love and respect of his country and consoled
by the rich hopes of a joyful immortality. Worthily is his name
preserved in North Carolina in a region that witnessed his exalted
patriotism and valor.


Col. James D. Williams, a brave and meritorious officer, was mortally
wounded at King's Mountain, near the close of the action. He died on
the next morning, and is buried within two miles of the place where he
so gallantly fell. Tradition says his first words, after reviving a
little, were, "For God's sake, boys, don't give up the hill."

He was a native of Granville county, N.C. He moved to Laurens county,
S.C., in 1773, and settled upon Little river. He early espoused the
patriot cause, and was active in raising troops and defending the
territory of the "Ninety-Six" District, abounding with many
evil-disposed loyalists.

He first appears as a Colonel of militia in April, 1778. In the spring
of 1779, he went into actual service, and was probably at the siege of
Savannah. He was with Gen. Sumter in 1780, and in the early part of
that year he was in the battle of Musgrove's Mill, on the Ennoree
river. After that engagement he went to Hillsboro, where he raised a
corps of cavalry, and returned to South Carolina. During Ferguson's
movements, after crossing the Wateree with the intention of embodying
the loyalists, and intercepting the "Mountain Men," Col. Williams
continually hovered around his camp, prepared to strike a blow when he
could, and cripple his advance.

Colonel Williams was a worthy member and Elder of the Presbyterian
Church, and was highly esteemed by all who knew him. It is to be
regretted more has not been preserved of his efficient military


Colonel William Graham was the son of Archibald Graham, of Scotland.
He was born in Augusta county, Va., in 1742. He emigrated to North
Carolina several years previous to the Revolutionary War, became the
owner of much valuable land, and finally settled on First Broad river,
then Tryon county, but now in Cleaveland. His patriotic principles
soon became known, and were called into active service at the
commencement of the Revolution. As the commanding officer, he had the
general superintendence of several Forts, erected on and near the
frontier settlements, as protections against the hostile Cherokee
Indians. Whilst in command of Fort McFadden, near the present town of
Rutherfordton, he formed the acquaintance of Mrs. Susan Twitty, widow
of William Twitty, and, as the "darts of Cupid" are often
irresistible, he married her, and the union proved to be a happy one.

In the Provincial Congress which met at Halifax on the 12th of Nov.,
1776, when the first State Constitution was formed, Colonel Graham was
one of the delegates from Lincoln county, his colleagues being Joseph
Hardin, Robert Abernathy, William Alston and John Barber.

In the expedition which marched in 1776, under General Rutherford,
against the Cherokee Indians, Colonel Graham commanded the regiment
which went from Lincoln and Rutherford counties. This expedition, as
is well known, was completely successful, and caused the Indians to
sue for peace.

In the expedition which marched for the relief of Charleston, in the
spring of 1780, from Charlotte, the place of rendezvous for several
counties, Colonel Graham led the regiment from Lincoln county. On the
arrival of the several forces at Charleston, they found the city so
completely invested by the British army that they could not render
assistance to the American garrison.

Soon after his return home, Colonel Graham again marched with his
regiment, General Rutherford commanding, against a large body of
Tories assembled at Ramsour's Mill under Lieut. Colonel John Moore,
(son of Moses Moore) near the present town of Lincolnton. General
Rutherford, with some Mecklenburg troops, crossed the Catawba river at
Tuckaseege Ford, on the evening of the 19th of June, 1780, and camped
at Colonel Joseph Dickson's plantation, three miles northwest of the
ford. On the morning of the 20th, Gen. Rutherford marched, at an early
hour, with the expectation of co-operating with Colonel Locke, of
Rowan county, in making a combined attack against the Tories, but
failed to reach the battleground until about two hours after the close
of that sanguinary engagement, in which the Tories were signally

When a call was made upon the commanding officers of the militia of
Lincoln county (under its old limits) in September, 1780, for troops
to oppose the boasting Ferguson, Colonel Graham marched with his
regiment, and joined Colonels Campbell, Sevier, Shelby and others at
the "Cowpens," where, a little more than three months afterward,
General Morgan gained a brilliant victory; but, it is known, in
consequence of severe sickness in his family, Colonel Graham did not
participate in the battle which took place on King's Mountain on the
afternoon of the 7th of October, 1780, and which resulted so
gloriously for the American arms.

During the year 1775, the Province of North Carolina, ever in the van
of early patriotic movements, formed "Associations" throughout her
territory, mainly as _tests of patriotism_. The county of Cumberland
formed an Association on the 20th of June, 1775. The county of Tryon
(embracing Lincoln and Rutherford) formed a similar "Association" on
the 14th of August following, which was signed by the "Committee of
Safety," and ordered to be "signed by every freeholder in the county."
Among the forty-eight signatures may be conspicuously noticed those of
William Graham, Charles McLean, (who at one time commanded the Lincoln
regiment), Frederick Hambright, (see sketch of his services in this
volume) John Walker, Jacob Forney, (father of Gen. Peter Forney),
Thomas Espey, (brother of Capt. Samuel Espey, severely wounded at the
battle of King's Mountain), Andrew Neal, Joseph Neal, John Dellinger,
George Dellinger, Joseph Hardin, Jacob Costner, Valentine Mauney,
Peter Sides, Joseph Kuykendall, James Coburn, James Miller and others.
One of the signers, Peter Sides, (properly Seitz) belonged to a family
from Switzerland--all true Whigs, and worthy representatives of the
land of William Tell.

Colonel William Graham died in April, 1835, in the eighty-seventh year
of his age, and is buried at the old homestead, on First Broad river,
in Cleaveland county, N.C.


Lieutenant-Colonel Hambright was born in Germany in 1727, emigrated to
Pennsylvania about 1740, and after remaining there a short time
removed to Virginia about 1755, where he married Sarah Hardin, with
whom he lived happily until her death during the Revolution. A few
years after his marriage he moved to Tryon county in North Carolina,
being accompanied by his brothers-in-law, Colonel Joseph Hardin, John
Hardin and Benjamin Hardin; also, by James Kuykendall, Nathaniel
Henderson, Robert Leeper, and others. He first settled at the Fort,
erected near the mouth of the South Fork of the Catawba river, as a
protection against the attacks of the Indians. From that place he soon
afterward moved to Long Creek, in the same county, and was living
there when the battle of King's Mountain took place, in which he so
gallantly participated. A short time previous to that battle he had
purchased a tract of land on King's Creek, and had built a cabin upon
it, preparatory to a future removal of his family.

Colonel Hambright was twice married. By the first marriage to Sarah
Hardin, previously noticed, he had twelve children, of whom six were
raised, viz: 1. John H. Hambright, who fought at King's Mountain. 2.
Elizabeth. 3. Frederick. 4. Sarah. 5. Benjamin, and 6. James
Hambright. Of these, Elizabeth married Joseph Jenkins, and Sarah Peter
Eaker, both of whom have worthy descendants.

By the second wife, Mary Dover, whom he married in 1781, he had ten
children, of whom eight were raised. Mrs. Susannah Dickson, the tenth
child by the second wife, and the youngest of the twenty-two children,
is still living and retains in her memory many interesting traditions
of the Revolution.

Colonel Hambright early displayed a fervent patriotic zeal for the
independence of his adopted country. In 1777 he received the
appointment of Lieutenant-Colonel, and was throughout the war an
active and courageous officer. He was constantly watching the
movements of the Tories, whose malicious influence and plundering
habits seriously disturbed the peace and welfare of society. His name
soon became a "terror to the Tories, who well knew the determination
of his character and the vigilance and prowess of his arms in
arresting disaffected persons, and defeating their designs."

At the battle of King's Mountain Col. William Graham, having charge of
the Lincoln regiment, not being present on account of sickness in his
family, the command devolved on Col. Hambright and most nobly and
courageously did he sustain the responsible position. No portion of
the advancing Whig columns evinced more irresistible bravery, and
suffered more severely than the troops under his immediate command.
Major William Chronicle, one of his most efficient and gallant
officers, fell early in the action. There, too, Captain John Mattocks,
Lieutenants Robb and Boyd, and others, all from the same neighborhood,
lost their lives in that fiercely contested battle, which resulted so
gloriously for the cause of liberty.

In this conflict Colonel Hambright was severely wounded by a large
rifle ball passing through the fleshy part of the thigh. It was soon
discovered by the soldiers near him that he was wounded and bleeding
profusely. Samuel Moore, of York county, South Carolina, requested him
to to be taken from his horse; he refused by saying, "he knew he was
wounded but was not sick or faint from the loss of blood--said he
could still ride very well, and therefore deemed it his duty to fight
on till the battle was over." And most nobly did he remain in his
place, encouraging his men by his persistent bravery and heroic
example until signal victory crowned the American arms.

At the close of the action, when Colonel Hambright alighted from his
horse, the blood was running over the top of the boot on the wounded
leg. He was then conveyed to the cabin erected on his own land, as
previously stated, before the war, where he was properly cared for
until he was partially recovered. Although the wound, in process of
time, seemed to have healed, yet its deep-seated injury caused him to
falter in his walk during the remainder of his life. The reason he
assigned for refusing to be taken from his horse when severely wounded
does honor to his exalted patriotism. He said if he had complied his
men would neglect to _load_ and _fire_ as often as they should; would
gather around him to administer to his wants, and thus fail to do
their whole duty in opposing and conquering the enemy.

Such true devotion to the cause of freedom is worthy of our warmest
admiration, and forcibly illustrates the heroic spirit which animated
the band of patriots who achieved, on King's Mountain, one of the most
important and decisive victories of the American Revolution.

Colonel Hambright was long a worthy member and elder of the
Presbyterian church at Shiloh, in the present limits of Cleaveland
county. On his tombstone we have this plain inscription:

     "In memory of Colonel Frederick Hambright, who departed this
     life, March (figures indistinct) 1817, in the ninetieth year
     of his age."



Burke county was formed in 1777 from Rowan county, and was named in
honor of the celebrated orator and statesman, Edmund Burke, an
Irishman by birth, and possessed of all the warm and impetuous order
of his countrymen. He early employed his pen in literature, and his
eloquence in politics. Having been introduced to the Marquis of
Rockingham, he made him his secretary and procured his election to the
House of Commons. He there eloquently pleaded the cause of the
Americans. During his political career he wrote much, and his
compositions rank among the purest of English classics. This true
friend of America died on the 8th of July, 1797, in the seventieth
year of his age.

At the commencement of the Revolutionary war the territory now lying
on and near the eastern base of the "Blue Ridge," or Alleghany chain
of mountains, constituted the borders of civilization, and suffered
frequently from marauding bands of Cherokee Indians, the great scourge
of Western North Carolina. The whole country west of Tryon county
(afterward Lincoln) was sparsely settled with the families of
adventurous individuals, who, confronting all dangers, had carved out
homes in the mountains and raised up hardy sons, deeply imbued with
the spirit of liberty, prepared to go forth, at a moment's warning, to
fight the battles of their country.


     "There was Greene in the South; you must know him,--
       Whom some called a 'Hickory Quaker;'
     But he ne'er turned his back on the foemen,
       Nor ever was known for a _shaker_."

After the unfortunate battle of Camden, on the 16th of August, 1780,
where Gen. Gates lost the laurels he had obtained at Saratoga,
Congress perceived the necessity of appointing a more efficient
commander for the Southern army. Accordingly Gen. Washington was
directed to make the selection from his well-tried and experienced
officers. Whereupon the commander-in-chief appointed General Nathaniel
Greene, late the Quartermaster General, on the 30th of October, 1780,
who, in a few days afterward, set out for his field of labor. As he
passed through Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, he ascertained what
supplies it was likely could be obtained from those States; and
leaving the Baron Steuben to take charge of the defence of Virginia he
proceeded to Hillsboro, then the temporary seat of government for
North Carolina. Gov. Nash received him with much joy, as the safety of
the State was in imminent danger. After a short stay in that place he
hastened on to Charlotte, the headquarters of the Southern army. Gen.
Gates there met him with marked respect, without displaying any of
those feelings which sometimes arise from disappointed ambition, and
immediately set out for the headquarters of Washington, then in New
Jersey, to submit to an inquiry into his conduct, which had been
ordered by Congress.

Gen. Green took charge of the Southern army in the town of Charlotte
on the 3rd day of December, 1780. After surveying his troops and
supplies he found himself at the head of about two thousand men, one
half of whom were militia, with only a sufficiency of provisions for
three days, in an exhausted country, and with a scanty supply of
ammunition. With the quick eye of military genius, he determined at
once to divide his army, small as it was, and provide the needful
supplies in different localities. Relying upon Gen. Davidson's
militia, as a central force and protection, to be called out upon
emergencies from the surrounding counties, he led the largest portion
of his army under himself, and encamped on Hick's Creek, opposite
Cheraw, and about seventy miles to the right of Cornwallis, who was
then at Winsboro, South Carolina. While encamped at this place he was
joined by the legionary corps of cavalry under Lieutenant-Colonel
Henry Lee, more familiarly known as "Light Horse Harry," and father of
the late distinguished Gen. Robert E. Lee, of the Confederate army,
whose memory the Southern people and an _impartial world_ will ever
delight to honor! The other detachment of the army, about one thousand
strong, under Brig. Gen. Morgan was placed about fifty miles to the
left to disperse bands of Tories and protect the country between the
Broad and Pacolet rivers. Gen. Morgan's division, near the close of
1780, consisted of four hundred of Continental infantry under
Lieutenant-Colonel Howard, of the Maryland line, two companies of the
Virginia militia under Captains Triplett and Tate, and about one
hundred dragoons under Lieutenant-Colonel William Washington. This
force, at the time just mentioned, was considerably augmented by North
Carolina militia under Major McDowell--"Mountain boys," ever reliable,
and some Georgia militia, under Major Cunningham. Gen. Morgan encamped
on the northern bank of Pacolet river, and near Pacolet Springs. From
this point Col. Washington frequently sallied forth to disperse bodies
of Tories who assembled at different places and plundered the Whig
inhabitants. He attacked and defeated two hundred of them at Hammond's
store, and soon afterward a section of his command dispersed another
Tory force under the "bloody Bill Cunningham."

Cornwallis, who was still at Winnsboro, perceived these successes with
alarm, and fearing an attack upon his important post at Ninety-Six,
determined to disperse the forces under Morgan or drive them into
North Carolina before he should rally the Mountain Men in sufficient
numbers to cut off his communication with his post at Augusta. He
accordingly dispatched Tarleton with his legion and a strong force of
infantry, with two field pieces, to compel Morgan to fight or hastily
retreat. Tarleton's entire force consisted of about eleven hundred
well-disciplined men, and in every respect he had the advantage of

It is related of Tarleton that when he heard of Morgan's forces being
encampted near the post of Ninety-Six, he begged of Lord Rawdon the
privilege of attacking the American officer. "By Heaven, my lord, said
he, I would not desire a finer feather in my cap than Colonel Morgan.
Such a prisoner would make my fortune. Ah, Ban," (contraction of
Banastre, Tarleton's Christian name) replied Rawdon, "you had better
let the old wagoner alone." As no refusal would satisfy him,
permission was given, and he immediately set out with a strong force
in pursuit of Morgan. At parting Tarleton said to Rawdon with a smile,
"My lord, if you will be so obliging as to wait dinner, the day after
to-morrow, till four o'clock, Colonel Morgan shall be one of your
lordship's guests." "Very well, Ban, said Rawdon, we shall wait; but
remember, Morgan was brought up under Washington."

Tarleton commenced his march from Winnsboro on the 11th of January,
1781, Cornwallis following leisurely in the rear with the main army.
He crossed Broad river near Turkey creek, and advanced with all
possible speed in the direction of Morgan's camp. That officer was at
first disposed to dispute Tarleton's passage of the Pacolet river, but
being informed of the superiority of his numbers, and that a portion
of the British army had already crossed above him, he hastily
retreated northward, and took post for battle on the north side of
Thicketty Mountain, near the Cowpens. Tarleton pressed eagerly forward
in pursuit, riding all night, and making a circuit around the western
side of the mountain. At eight o'clock in the morning he came in sight
of the advanced guard of the patriots, and fearing that Morgan might
again retreat and get safely across Broad river, he resolved to attack
him immediately, notwithstanding the fatigued condition of his troops.
Tarleton was evidently disposed to view Morgan as "flying game," and
he therefore wished to "bag him" while clearly within scope of his
vision. The sequel will show how sadly he was mistaken.

The Americans were posted upon an eminence of gentle ascent, covered
with an open wood. They were rested and refreshed after their retreat
from the Pacolet. And, now expecting the enemy, they were drawn up in
battle order. Tarleton was rather disconcerted when he found that
Morgan was prepared to fight him, for he expected to overtake him on a
flying retreat. It was now about nine o'clock. The sun was shining
brightly over the summits of Thicketty Mountain, and imparted a
glowing brilliancy to the martial array in the forests below. On the
crown of the eminence were stationed two hundred and ninety Maryland
regulars, and on their right the two companies of Virginia militia
under Major Triplet. These composed the rear line of four hundred and
thirty men under Lieutenant-Colonel Howard. One hundred and fifty
yards in advance of this line was a body of about three hundred
militia under Colonel Andrew Pickens, all experienced riflemen, and
burning with a spirit of revenge on account of numerous cruelties
previously inflicted by the British and Tories. This brave officer had
arrived during the night, with his followers, and joined Morgan. About
one hundred and fifty yards in advance of this first line, were placed
the best riflemen of the corps under McDowell and Cunningham. The
action soon commenced.

At a signal from Tarleton, his advance gave a loud shout and rushed
furiously to the contest, under cover of their artillery, and a
constant discharge of musketry. The riflemen under McDowell and
Cunningham delivered their fire with terrible effect, and then fell
back to the flanks of the first line under Pickens. The contest was
close and severe, with alternate wavings of the British and American
lines, under successive attacks of the bayonet, which the prescribed
limits of this work forbid to be presented in all their animating
details. Suffice it to say, Tarleton here met a "foeman worthy of his
steel;" and the Americans, at the Cowpens, on the 17th of January,
1781, gained one of the most triumphant victories of the Revolutionary
War. Almost the whole of the British infantry, except the baggage
guard, were either killed or taken. Two pieces of artillery, eight
hundred muskets, two standards, thirty-five wagons and one hundred
dragoon horses fell into the hands of the Americans. Notwithstanding
the cruel warfare which Tarleton had waged against the Americans, to
the honor of the victors it is said not one of the British prisoners
was killed, or even insulted after they had surrendered.

The loss of the Americans in this decisive battle was twelve killed
and about sixty wounded. The loss of the British was ten officers and
ninety privates killed, and twenty-three officers and five hundred
privates taken prisoners. At the close of the action, Washington, with
his cavalry, pursued Tarleton, who now in turn, had become "flying
game." In his eagerness of pursuit of that officer, Washington had
dashed forward considerably in advance of his squadron, when Tarleton
and two of his aids turned upon him, and just as an officer on
Tarleton's right was about to strike him with his sabre, his sergeant
dashed up and disabled the assailant's sword arm. An officer on
Tarleton's left was about to strike at the same moment, when
Washington's little bugler, too small to wield a sword, wounded the
assailant with a pistol ball. Tarleton, who was in the center, then
made a thrust at him, which Washington parried, and wounded his enemy
in the hand. Tarleton wheeled, and, as he retreated, discharged a
pistol, wounding Washington in the knee. During that night and the
following morning, the remnant of Tarleton's forces crossed Broad
river at Hamilton's Ford, and reached the encampment of Cornwallis at
Turkey creek, about twenty-five miles from the Cowpens.

This _hand-wound_ of Tarleton, inflicted by Washington, gave rise, on
two different occasions, to sallies of wit by two American ladies,
daughters of Colonel Montford, of Halifax county, North Carolina. When
Cornwallis and his army were at Halifax, on their way to Virginia,
Tarleton was at the house of an American citizen. In the presence of
Mrs. Willie Jones, Tarleton spoke of Colonel Washington as an
illiterate fellow, hardly able to write his name. "Ah! Colonel," said
Mrs. Jones, "you ought to know better, for you bear on your person
proof that he knows very well how to make his mark!" At another time,
Tarleton was sarcastically speaking of Washington in the presence of
her sister, Mrs. Ashe. "I would be happy to see Colonel Washington,"
he said, with a sneer. Mrs. Ashe instantly replied: "If you had looked
behind you, Colonel Tarleton, at the battle of the Cowpens, you would
have enjoyed that pleasure." Stung with this keen wit, Tarleton placed
his hand on his sword with an inclination to use it. General Leslie,
who was present, remarked, "Say what you please, Mrs. Ashe, Colonel
Tarleton knows better than to insult a lady in my presence."

The victory of the Cowpens gave great joy to the friends of liberty
throughout the whole country. Congress received information of it on
the 8th of February following, and on the 9th of March voted an award
of a gold medal to Morgan; a silver medal to Howard and Washington; a
sword to Col. Pickens, and a vote of thanks to the other officers and
men engaged in the battle.

At this time, Cornwallis was advancing triumphantly in the direction
of North Carolina, having placed South Carolina and Georgia, as he
thought, in submission at his feet. The defeat and death of Ferguson,
one of his most efficient officers, at King's Mountain, and now of
Tarleton, his favorite partisan, greatly withered his hopes of strong
Tory cooperation. His last hope was the destruction of Greene's army
by his own superior force, and, with that design in view, he broke up
his encampment near Turkey creek, and like Saul, "yet breathing out
threatenings and slaughter" against Morgan's little army, he commenced
that pursuit of the "hero of the Cowpens," who, encumbered with his
five hundred prisoners, under various Providential interpositions,
made good his retreat into Virginia, constituting one of the most
thrilling and successful military achievements of the American


General Daniel Morgan was born in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, in 1737,
and moved to Virginia in 1755. He was a private soldier under General
Braddock, and after the defeat of that officer returned to his
occupation of a farmer and a wagoner. When the war of the Revolution
broke out, he joined the army under General Washington, at Cambridge,
and commanded a corps of riflemen. He was with General Montgomery at
Quebec, and with General Gates at Saratoga, in both of which battles
he greatly distinguished himself. For his bravery he was promoted to
the rank of Brigadier General, and joined the army in the South. After
the battle of Camden, when General Greene assumed the chief command,
General Morgan was detached to raise troops in the western part of the
State and in South Carolina. He soon became distinguished as a
partisan officer, inspiring confidence and arousing the despondent
Whigs to a more active sense of duty. His victory at the Cowpens was
justly considered as one of the most brilliant and decided victories
of the Revolution, and Congress accordingly voted him a gold medal. At
the close of the war, he returned to his farm. In 1794 he was
appointed by General Washington to quell the Whisky Insurrection in
Western Virginia, and after the difficulties were settled, he was
elected a member of Congress and served from 1797 to 1799. His health
failing, he declined a re-election. His farm in Clarke county, a few
miles from Winchester, Va., was called Saratoga. In 1800, he removed
to Winchester, where he died on the 6th of July, 1802, in the
sixty-seventh year of his age.

In early life, General Morgan was dissipated; yet the teachings of a
pious mother always made him reverential when his thoughts turned
toward the Deity. In his latter years he professed religion and became
a member of the Presbyterian Church in Winchester. "Ah!" he would
often exclaim when talking of the past, "people said old Morgan never
feared--they thought old Morgan never prayed--they did not know old
Morgan was miserably afraid." He said he trembled at Quebec, and in
the gloom of early morning, when approaching the battery at Cape
Diamond, he knelt in the snow and prayed; and before the battle at the
Cowpens, he went into the woods, ascended a tree, and there poured out
his soul in prayer to the Almighty Ruler of the Universe for


(Condensed from Wheeler's "Historical Sketches.")

Colonel Charles McDowell and his brothers, Joseph and William, were
sons of Joseph McDowell and Margaret O'Neal, who emigrated from
Ireland and settled in Winchester, Va. Here, Charles and Joseph were
born, the former in 1743. Soon afterward, Joseph McDowell, Sr., moved
to Burke county, N.C.

In June, 1780, Colonel Charles McDowell being joined by Colonels Isaac
Shelby and John Sevier from Tennessee, and by Colonel Clarke, of
Georgia, near the Cherokee Ford on Broad river, in South Carolina, he
determined to attack a post held by the enemy on Pacolet river, in
Spartanburg county. The position was strongly fortified under the
command of Captain Patrick Moore, a distinguished loyalist. On being
surrounded, the enemy, after some parley as to terms, surrendered as
prisoners of war. One British Sergeant Major, ninety-three loyalists,
two hundred and fifty fire-arms and other munitions of war were the
fruits of this victory. Soon afterward Col. McDowell detached Shelby
to watch the movements of Ferguson, and attack him. On the 1st of
August, 1780, Shelby met the advance guard of Ferguson at Cedar
Spring, about six hundred strong, when a spirited contest commenced;
but on the enemy being reinforced, Shelby made good his retreat,
carrying off from the field twenty prisoners, including two British

On learning that a body of five hundred Tories had assembled on the
south side of Enoree river, near Musgrove's Mill, Colonel McDowell
detached Colonels Shelby, Williams and Clarke to attack them. Colonel
Ferguson, with his whole force, lay encamped between them. They left
the camp on the 18th of August at Smith's Ford on Broad river, and
taking a circuitous route through the woods, avoided Ferguson's
forces. They rode hard all night, and at daybreak encountered a strong
patrol party of the enemy. A skirmish immediately ensued and the
Tories retreated. They then advanced on the main body of the Tories.
At this juncture a countryman living near, a friend of liberty, came
to Shelby and informed him that the enemy had been reinforced the
evening before, by six hundred regular troops, and the Queen's
American regiment from New York, commanded by Colonel Innis, marching
to join Ferguson. Here was a position that would have tried the talent
and nerve of the most skillful and brave officer. Advance was
hopeless, and retreat impossible. But Shelby was equal to the
emergency. He immediately commenced forming a breast-work of brush and
old logs, while he detailed twenty-five tried men to reconnoiter and
skirmish with the enemy as soon as they crossed the Enoree river. The
drums and bugles of the enemy were soon heard marching upon this
devoted band. Captain Inman had been ordered to fire and retreat. This
stratagem, suggested by Captain Inman himself, was successful in its
object. The enemy advanced in rapid pursuit and in great confusion,
believing that the whole American force was routed. When they
approached the rude breast-work of Shelby, they received from his
riflemen a most destructive fire, which carried great slaughter among
them. This was gallantly kept up; all the British officers were killed
or wounded, and Hawsey, the Tory leader, shot down. The enemy then
began a disorderly retreat. The Americans now in turn pursued, and in
this pursuit the brave Captain Inman was killed, fighting hand to hand
with the enemy. Colonel Shelby commanded the right wing, Colonel
Clarke the left, and Colonel Williams the center.

The British loss in this brilliant and well-planned battle, was
sixty-three killed and one hundred wounded and prisoners; the American
loss was only four killed, including Captain Inman, and Captain Clarke

The triumphant victors were about to remount and advance on the
British post at Ninety Six, when an express arrived from Colonel
McDowell, with a letter from Governor Caswell, informing them of the
defeat of General Gates at Camden on the 16th of August, and advising
the retreat of our troops, as the British, flushed with victory, would
advance in strong force and cut off all detachments of our people.
With Ferguson near him, Colonel Shelby, encumbered with more than two
hundred prisoners, acted with energy and promptness. He distributed
the prisoners among the companies, each behind a private, and without
stopping day or night, retreated over the mountains to a place of

This rapid movement saved his men and himself. On the next day Major
DePeyster, of Ferguson's forces, with a strong body of men, made an
active but fruitless search.

In consequence of the panic after Gates' defeat on the 16th of August,
1780, and the surprise and dispersion of Sumter's forces at Fishing
creek by Tarleton's cavalry on the 18th following, Colonel McDowell
disbanded, for a time, his little army, and he himself retreated over
the mountains.

This was a dark and doleful period of American history. The British
flag floated in triumph over Charleston and Savannah. The troops of
Lord Cornwallis, with all the pomp and circumstance of glory, advanced
from the battle-field of Camden to Charlotte, with the fond
expectation of soon placing North Carolina under his subjection. Many
of the brave had despaired of final success, and the timid, and some
of the wealthy, to save their property, had taken "protection" under
the enemy. Colonel Ferguson, with chosen troops, was ravaging the
whole western portion of upper South Carolina, subduing in his
progress to western North Carolina, all opponents of English power,
and encouraging, by bribes and artifice, others to join the royal

Under all these discouraging circumstances the brave "Mountain Boys,"
and other kindred spirits of the west never despaired. On the mountain
heights of North Carolina, and in her secure retreats, like Warsaw's
"last champion," stood the stalwart soldiers of that day:

     "Oh Heaven! they said, our bleeding country save!
     Is there no hand on high to shield the brave?
     What though destruction sweep these lovely plains!--
     Rise, fellow-men! our country yet remains;
     By that dread name, we wave the sword on high,
     And swear for her to live! for her to die!"

If the sky was then gloomy, a storm was gathering in these mountain
retreats which was soon to descend in all its fury on the heads of the
enemies of our country. In a short time afterward the battle of King's
Mountain was fought and won by the patriots, which spread a thrill of
joy throughout the land.

Colonel Charles McDowell was elected the first Senator to the State
Legislature from Burke county in 1778, and successively from 1782 to
1790. From 1791 to 1795, he was succeeded in the same position by his
brother, Major Joseph McDowell. About this period, at three or four
different times, all three of the members of the Assembly to which the
county was entitled were of this family, which proved their great
popularity and worth. Major Joseph McDowell also served as a member of
Congress from 1793 to 1795, and from 1797 to 1799. He lived on John's
river, and died there. His family returned to Virginia, where some of
his descendants may still be found. One of his sons, Hugh Harvey,
settled in Missouri, and Joseph J. McDowell, in Ohio, who was a member
of Congress from that State from 1843 to 1847.

General Charles McDowell married Grace Greenlee, the widow of Captain
John Bowman, who fell at the battle of Ramsour's Mill. By this union
he had several children, one of whom was the late Captain Charles
McDowell, who resided on the Catawba river, near Morganton.

General Charles McDowell died on the 31st of March, 1815, aged about
seventy-two years.



Wilkes county was formed in 1777, from Surry, and named in honor of
John Wilkes, a distinguished statesman and member of Parliament. He
was a fearless political writer, and violently opposed to the
oppressive measures of Great Britain against her American Colonies. In
1763 he published in the "North Briton" newspaper a severe attack on
the government, for which he was sent to the Tower. Acquitted of the
charge for which he was imprisoned, he sued for and recovered five
thousand dollars damages and then went to Paris. In 1768 he returned
to England and was soon after elected a member of Parliament. In his
private character he was licentious, but his eminent talents, energy,
and fascinating manners made him a great favorite with the people. He
died at his seat in the Isle of Wight in 1797, aged seventy years.


Colonel Benjamin Cleaveland, one of the distinguished heroes of King's
Mountain, and in honor of whom Cleaveland county is named, lived and
died in Wilkes county at a good old age.

In 1775 he first entered the service as Ensign in the second regiment
of troops, and acted a brave and conspicuous part in the battle's of
King's Mountain and Guilford court house. A serious impediment in his
speech prevented him from entering public life. He is frequently
spoken of in the mountain country as the "hero of a hundred fights
with the Tories." He was for many years the Surveyor of Wilkes county
and resided at the "Little Hickerson place."

Among other singular incidents in his remarkable career, as preserved
by General William Lenoir, and recorded in Wheeler's "Historical
Sketches," we give place to the following:

     "Riddle Knob, in Watauga county, derives its name from a
     circumstance of the capture of Colonel Benjamin Cleaveland,
     during the Revolution, by a party of Tories headed by men of
     this name, and adds the charm of heroic association to the
     loveliness of it unrivaled scenery. Cleaveland had been a
     terror to the Tories. Two notorious characters of their
     band, (Jones and Coil) had been apprehended by him and hung.
     Cleaveland had gone alone, on some private business, to New
     river, and was taken prisoners by the Tories, at the 'Old
     Fields, on that stream. They demanded that he should furnish
     passes for them.

     "Being an indifferent penman he was some time in preparing
     these papers, and he was in no hurry as he believed that
     they would kill him when they had obtained them. While thus
     engaged Captain Robert Cleaveland, his brother, with a party
     followed him, knowing the dangerous proximity of the Tories.
     They came up with the Tories and fired on them. Colonel
     Cleaveland slid off the log to prevent being shot, while the
     Tories fled, and he thus escaped certain destruction.

     "Some time after this circumstance the same Riddle and his
     son, and another were taken and brought before Cleaveland,
     and he hung all three of them near the Mulberry
     meeting-house, now Wilkesboro. The depredations of the
     Tories were so frequent, and their conduct so savage, that
     summary punishment was demanded by the exigencies of the
     times. This Cleaveland inflicted without ceremony."


Colonel John Sevier was born in Shenandoah county, Virginia, in 1734.
His father descended from an ancient family in France, the name being
originally spelled Xavier.

About 1769 young Sevier joined an exploring and emigrating party to
the Holston river, in East Tennessee, then a part of North Carolina.
He assisted in erecting the first fort on the Watauga river, where he,
his father, his brother Valentine, and others settled. Whilst engaged
in the defence of the Watauga fort, in conjunction with Captain James
Robertson, so known and distinguished in the early history of Middle
Tennessee, he espied a young lady, of tall and erect stature, running
rapidly towards the fort, closely pursued by Indians, and her approach
to the gate cut off by the savage enemy. Her cruel pursuers were
doubtless confident of securing a captive or a victim to their
blood-thirty purposes; but, turning suddenly, she eluded the savages,
leaped the palisades of the fort at another point, and gracefully fell
into the arms of Captain John Sevier. This remarkably active and
resolute woman was Miss Catharine Sherrill, who, in a few years after
this sudden leap and rescue, became the devoted and heroic wife of the
gallant Captain and future Colonel, General, Governor and people's
friend, John Sevier. She became the mother of ten children, who could
gratefully rise up and call her blessed.

During Sevier's visit to his family in Virginia in 1773, Governor
Dunmore gave him a Captain's commission.

Through his own exertions he raised a company and was in the
sanguinary battle of Point Pleasant, on the Kenhawa, in which James
Robertson and Valentine Sevier actively participated.

The first settlers on the Holston, Watauga and other tributary
streams, were so far beyond the influence of the State laws of North
Carolina as to induce them in 1772 to form a temporary government for
their better protection and security. The people enjoyed the
advantages of this "Watauga government," as it was called, from 1772
until 1777, at which date Colonel Sevier procured the establishment of
courts and the extension of State laws over "Washington District,"
then in North Carolina, embracing an interesting section of country in
which he and other pioneers of civilization had cast their lots. These
hardy pioneers opened roads across the mountains, felled the forests,
built forts and houses, subdued the earth, and began rapidly to
replenish it, for they married and were given in marriage. The State
of North Carolina, several years afterward, with a motherly
forgiveness, passed laws to confirm marriages and other deeds of these
wayward children in the wilderness.

Colonel Sevier served in the expedition under Colonel Christian to
chastise the Indians for their numerous murders and depredations. In
1779, he raised troops, entered the Indian territory, and fought the
successful battle of Boyd's creek. A few days after this battle, he
was joined by Colonel Arthur Campbell with a Virginia regiment, and
Colonel Isaac Shelby with troops from Sullivan county, then in North
Carolina. These active officers scoured the Cherokee country,
scattered hostile bands, destroyed most of the Indian towns, and,
after inflicting this severe chastisement, returned to their homes
with greater assurance of peace and security.

The former part of the year 1780, was one of gloom and despondency in
the Southern States. Charleston surrendered, Gates defeated, and other
minor reverses; Tories becoming daring and insolent; the British
overrunning South Carolina and Georgia; the Indians upon the borders,
bribed and inflamed against the Americans--all tended to increase the
gloom and darken the prospect of achieving our independence. But
amidst all the obscurity which shrouded the sun of American
independence, there was a gallant band of patriots in the mountains of
North Carolina and upper South Carolina, who never quailed in duty
before the enemy, struck a severe blow at every opportune moment, and
never despaired of final success.

In the brilliant victory of King's Mountain, Col. Sevier, with his
regiment, displayed the most consummate bravery. In June of the same
year, he marched into South Carolina and assisted Col. McDowell and
other officers in the successful battle of Musgrove's Mill.

In 1781, Colonel Sevier was appointed by General Greene a commissioner
to treat with the chiefs of the Cherokees and other tribes of Indians,
which trust he faithfully performed. During the years 1781 and 1782,
he was almost constantly engaged in leading expeditions into the
Cherokee country.

On the 14th of December, 1784, a convention of five delegates from
each county of the extreme western portion of North Carolina, met at
Jonesboro, now in Tennessee, of which body Col. Sevier was made
President. They formed a constitution for a new State, to be called
"Frankland," which was to be received or rejected by another body of
similar powers, "fresh from the people," to meet at Greenville in
November 1785. This anomalous state of things, as might be expected,
caused Governor Caswell, who was both a soldier and a statesman, to
issue his proclamation "against this lawless thirst for power."

The prescribed limits of this sketch forbid a full recital of all the
angry discussions and violent acts of the opposing parties which
unfortunately, for about three years, seriously disturbed the peace
and welfare of Western North Carolina.

In 1789, Colonel Sevier was elected the Senator from Greene county to
the Legislature of North Carolina. In 1790, he was elected a member of
Congress. He was twice elected Governor of Tennessee. In 1811, he was
elected a Representative to Congress, and in 1813, re-elected to the
same position. In 1815, he was appointed by President Madison a
commissioner to adjust difficulties with the Creek Indians. Whilst
engaged in the performance of this arduous duty, he was taken
seriously ill, and soon thereafter died near Fort Decatur, Ala., on
the 24th of September, 1815, aged about eighty-one years.

Gen. Gaines, then in command of the regular troops near that place,
though quite ill at the time, paid the last sad tribute of respect to
a brave fellow-soldier, and had him buried with the honors of war.


General William Lenoir was born in Brunswick county, Virginia, on the
20th of May, 1751. He was of French (Huguenot) descent, and the
youngest of a family of ten children. When he was about eight years
old his father removed to a place near Tarboro, N.C., where he resided
until his death, a short time afterward. He received no other
education than his own limited means and personal exertions enabled
him to procure. When about twenty years of age he married Ann Ballard,
of Halifax, N.C.--a lady possessing, in an eminent degree, those
domestic and heroic virtues which qualified her for sustaining the
privations and hardships of a frontier life, which it was her lot
afterward to encounter.

In March 1775 Gen. Lenoir removed with his family to Wilkes county
(then a part of Surry) and settled near the place where Wilkesboro now
stands. Previous to leaving Halifax he signed the paper known as the
"Association," containing a declaration of patriotic principles and
means of redress, relative to the existing troubles with Great
Britain. Soon after his removal to Surry he was appointed a member of
the "Committee of Safety" for that county. He took an early and active
part in repelling the depredating and murderous incursions of the
Cherokee Indians upon the frontier settlements. In this kind of
service he was actively engaged until the celebrated expedition, under
Gen. Rutherford, completely subdued the Indians, and compelled them to
sue for peace. From the termination of this campaign, in which he
acted as a Lieutenant under Captain Benjamin Cleaveland, to the one
projected against Major Ferguson, he was almost constantly engaged in
capturing and suppressing the Tories, who, at that time, were assuming
great boldness, and molesting the persons and property of the Whig

In the expedition to King's Mountain Gen. Lenoir held the appointment
of Captain in Colonel Cleaveland's regiment, which united with the
other Whig forces at the head of the Catawba river. When it was
ascertained it would be impossible to overtake Ferguson, now evidently
showing signs of fear, with the footmen, it was decided by a council
of the officers, that as many as could procure horses should do so,
and thus, as mounted infantry, advance rapidly upon the retreating
enemy. Accordingly, Gen. Lenoir and his company offered their
services, joined the select Spartan band of _nine hundred and ten_
brave spirits, and pressed forward without delay to the scene of

In the brilliant achievement on King's Mountain, Gen. Lenoir was
wounded in the arm and in the side, but not severely, and a third ball
passed through his hair, just above where it was tied. He was also at
the defeat of Col. Pyles, on Haw River, where his horse was shot and
his sword broken. At a later period he raised a company and marched
towards Dan river with the hope of joining General Greene, but was
unable to effect a junction in time. He performed many other minor but
important services, which it is here unnecessary to enumerate.

General Lenoir served as Major General of the militia about eighteen
years. In a civil capacity he also discharged many high and
responsible duties.

He filled, at different times, the offices of Register, Surveyor,
Commissioner of Affidavits, Chairman of the County Court, and Clerk of
the Superior Court for Wilkes county. He was one of the original
Trustees of the State University, and the first President of the
Board. He was also a member of both the State Conventions which met
for the purpose of considering the Constitution of the United States.
He served for many years in both branches of the State Legislature.
During the last seven years of his services in the Senate, he was
unanimously chosen Speaker of that body, and performed the duties of
that important station with great satisfaction, firmness and

In private life General Lenoir was no less distinguished for his moral
worth and generous hospitality than in public life for his unbending
integrity and enlarged patriotism. His mansion was open at all times,
not only to a large circle of friends and relatives, but to the
stranger and the traveller. To the poor he was kind and charitable,
and in his will made liberal provision for those of his own

During his last illness he suffered much pain which he bore with
Christian resignation. He often said "he did not fear to die--death
had no terrors for him." He died, with calm composure, at his
residence at Fort Defiance, on the 6th of May, 1839, aged eighty-eight

His remains were interred in the family burying ground which occupies
the spot where Fort Defiance was erected during the Revolutionary war.




The readers of American history, and more particularly those of the
Southern States, will doubtless be gratified to know something of _the
end_--the closing career, and "shuffling off of this mortal coil" of
Lord Cornwallis and Colonel Tarleton, the two British officers, who
remained the longest time among them; sometimes conquering all before
them, and again retrograding, until their capture and surrender at
Yorktown, in Virginia, on the 19th of October, 1781.

Charles Cornwallis, son of the first Earl of Cornwallis, was born in
Suffolk on the 31st of December, 1738. He was educated at Westminster
and St. John's College, Cambridge. He entered the army in 1759, and
succeeded to the title and estates of his father in 1761. He was the
most competent and energetic of all the British generals sent to
America during the Revolution, but the cruelties exercised by his
orders on a few occasions, have left an indelible stain upon his
character. It was in pursuance of one of his orders, issued soon after
the battle of Camden, that the unfortunate Colonel Isaac Hayne was
executed by that tyrannical British officer, Lord Rawdon.
Notwithstanding this cruel tragedy, which might have resulted
otherwise had he been present, Cornwallis possessed some fine traits
of character, had an amiable disposition, was greatly beloved by his
men, and was bitterly opposed to _house-burning_ when the fortunes of
war were in his favor. In 1770, he and three other young peers, joined
Lord Camden in protesting against the taxation of the American
colonies. Mansfield, the Chief Justice, is said to have sneeringly
remarked: "Poor Camden could only get four boys to join him." Although
opposed to the course of the British Ministry, yet, when hostilities
commenced, he did not refuse to accept active employment against
America. Soon after the war he was appointed Governor-General of the
East Indies, which position he held for six years. During that time,
he conquered the renowned Tippoo Sultan, for which service he was
created a marquis and master of the ordnance. He was Lord Lieutenant
of Ireland from 1798 to 1801, and was instrumental in restoring peace
to that country, then distracted by rebellion. He signed the treaty of
Amicus in 1802, and in 1804 was again appointed Governor General of
India. On his arrival at Calcutta, his health failed and he died at
Ghazepore on the 5th of October, 1805, aged sixty-seven years.


Colonel Banastre Tarleton was born in Liverpool, England, on the 21st
of August, 1754. He commenced the study of the law, but when the war
in America broke out he entered the British army and came to this
country with Lord Cornwallis. He served with that officer in all his
campaigns in the South, and by his daring intrepedity, and indomitable
energy, greatly contributed to the success of the British arms at
Camden. He possessed a sanguinary disposition, as was exhibited in the
cruel massacre of Col. Buford's regiment at the Waxhaws. In tracing
his history in America, we look in vain for any redeeming traits in
his character. The ardor of his temper and military ambition received
a severe check at the battle of the "Cowpens" on the 17th of January,
1781. The capitulation of the British army at Yorktown, closed his
military services in America. On his return to England, he received,
as might be expected, numerous honors.

In 1798, he married the daughter of the Duke of Ancaster. He died on
the 25th of January, 1833, in the seventy-ninth year of his age,
_without_ issue, and _without_ any lingering affection of the American


     "We, the rightful lords of yore,
     Are the rightful lords no more;
     Like the silver mist, we fail,
     Like the red leaves in the gale--
     Fail, like shadows, when the dawning
     Waves the bright flag of the morning."

In every history of the United States the different tribes of
Indians--the native "sons of the forest" and "rightful lords of the
soil," from Main to Florida and from the Atlantic ocean to the great
Mississippi valley--justly claim conspicuous notice, whether
considered as prowling enemies or warm-hearted friends.

As the Tuscaroras of eastern and middle Carolina were one of the most
powerful of the Indian tribes, exercising a dominant sway over much of
its undulating and semi-tropical territory early in the last century,
so the Cherokees were the most powerful tribe of western Carolina and
the adjoining region, preceding and during our Revolutionary war,
frequently requiring the strong arm of military force to chastise them
and teach them, by dear experience, the superiority and growing
destiny of their "pale faced" neighbors.

The native land of the Cherokees was the most inviting and beautiful
section of the United States, lying upon the sources of the Catawba
and Yadkin rivers--upon Keowee, Tugaloo, Etowab, Coosa and Flint, on
the east and south, and several of the tributaries of the Tennessee,
on the west and north. If to this list be added the names of Hiwassee,
Enoree, Tallulah, Swannanoa and Watauga, all streams originating and
flowing through this mountainous country in rapid, frolicksome mood,
we have an assemblage of musical sounds, (omitting the hard-sounding
_Flint_,) only equaled in beauty and soft cadence upon the ear, by the
grand and picturesque scenery with which they are surrounded.

According to Adair, one of the earliest settlers of South Carolina,
and who wrote of the four principal tribes, (Cherokees, Shawnees,
Chickasaws and Choctaws,) in 1775, "the Cherokees derive their name
from _Cheera_, or _fire_, which is their reputed lower heaven, and
hence they call their _magi, Cheera-tah-gee_, men possessed of the
divine fire."

Within twenty miles of old Fort Loudon, built on the Tennessee in
1756, says the same authority, "there is a great plenty of whetstones
for razors, of red, white and black colors. The silver mines are so
rich that by digging about ten yards (thirty feet) deep, some
desperate vagrants found at sundry times, so much rich ore as to
enable them to counterfeit dollars to a great amount, a horse load of
which was detected in passing for the purchase of negroes at Augusta."
"A tradition, says Dr. Ramsey, (Annals of Tennessee,) still continues
of the existence of the silver mine mentioned by Adair."

After the whites had settled near, and began to encroach upon the
"Over-Hill Towns," their inhabitants withheld all knowledge of the
mines from the traders, fearing their cupidity for the precious metals
might lead to their appropriation by others, and the ultimate
expulsion of the natives from the country. The history of the
Cherokees is closely identified with that of the early settlements of
the frontiers of the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Tennessee, and
all suffered from their vigorous and frequent hostile and murderous
incursions. They were formidable for their numbers, and passionate
fondness for war. They were the mountaineers of Aboriginal America,
and like all other inhabitants of an Alpine region, cherished a deep
affection for their country, and defended it with a lasting devotion
and persevering tenacity. Little of their early history can be
gathered from their traditions, extending back scarcely a century
preceding the Revolution. _Oka-na-sto-ta_, one of their distinguished
chiefs, visited England during the reign of George the Second. From
his time they date the declension of their nation. His place of
residence was at _Echota_, one of the Over-Hill Towns. Of the
_tumuli_, or mounds scattered through the country, and other ancient
remains, they know nothing, and considered them, when they took
possession of the country, as vestiges of a more numerous population
than themselves, and farther advanced in the arts of civilization. The
several Indian tribes in America have been compared to the fragments
of a vast ruin. And though these vestiges of a remote period in the
past may not awaken the same grand associations in the mind of the
beholder as the majestic ruins of Greece and Rome, yet they cannot
fail to excite feelings of veneration for the memory of a numerous
people, whose lingering signs of greatness are widely visible from the
western borders of North Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico, and
throughout the Mississippi valley.

As early as the year 1806, two Deputations attended Washington City
from the Cherokee nation; one from the lower towns, to make known to
the President their desire to remove west of the Mississippi, and
pursue the hunter's life; the other Deputation, representing in part
the Cherokees belonging to the above settlement, to make known their
desire to remain in the lands of their fathers, and become cultivators
of the soil. The President answered their petitions as follows:

     "The United States, my children, are the friends of both
     parties. As far as can be reasonably asked, they are willing
     to satisfy the wishes of both. Those who remain may be
     assured of our patronage, our aid, and good neighborhood."

The treaties formed between the United States and the Cherokee Nation,
in the years 1817 and 1819, made provision for those desiring to
remain, agreeably to the promise of the President; and they thus
became citizens of the United States, each family being allowed a
reservation of six hundred and forty acres of land. The whites claimed
the same lands under a purchase made of the State. Suits were
instituted in favor of the Indians, and by our Courts were decided in
their favor. Afterward they sold their reservations to the
Commissioners of the State, and purchased lands in the white
settlement, and in the neighborhood of the hunting grounds reserved
for them by treaties concluded with the Cherokee nation between the
years 1790 and 1799; which privilege as a part of their nation they
now enjoy.

The Cherokees now own in Haywood county, a tract of seventy-two
thousand acres of land, well adapted in the vallies for farming, and
on the mountains for wild game and sports of the chase. _Qualla Town_,
their metropolis, is chiefly inhabited by the former sovereigns of the
country, among whom are a few Catawbas. The Qualla Town people are
divided into seven clans or divisions, over each of which a chief

About the year 1830 the principal chief of this settlement, by the
name of "Drowning Bear" (or You-na-guskee) becoming convinced that
_intemperance_ would destroy himself and his people, determined, if
possible, to bring about a work of reform. He accordingly directed his
clerk to write in the Indian language an agreement which translated
reads as follows: "The undersigned Cherokees, belonging to the town of
Qualla, agree to abandon the use of spirituous liquors." This
instrument of writing was immediately signed by the old and venerable
chief, and the whole town. This wise proceeding has worked a wonderful
change for the better in their condition. They are now a temperate,
orderly, industrious and peaceable people.

One of the most wonderful achievements of our age is the invention of
the Cherokee alphabet. The invention was made in 1821 by _Guess_,
(Se-qua-yah) _a half breed_ Indian, his father being a white man and
his mother a Cherokee. He was at the time not only perfectly
unacquainted with letters but entirely so with every other language
except his own. The first idea of the practicability of such a project
was received by looking at an old piece of printed paper and
reflecting upon the very singular manner (to him) by which the white
people could place their thoughts on paper and communicate them to
others at a distance. A thought struck him that there surely must be
some mode by which the Indians could do the same. He first invented a
distinct character for each word, but soon found the number so great
that it was impossible to retain them in the memory. After several
months' labor he reduced his original plan so as to give to each
character a _syllabic sound_, and ascertained there were but
eighty-six variations of sounds in the whole language; and when each
of these was represented by some particular character or letter, the
language was at once reduced to a system, and the extraordinary mode
of now writing it crowned his labors with the most happy success.
Considerable improvement has been made in the formation of the
characters, in order that they might be written with greater facility.
One of the characters, being found superfluous, has been discarded,
reducing the number to eighty-five. Guess emigrated to the West in
1824. It has been much regretted that he did not remain in North
Carolina to witness the advantages and blessings of his discovery.

The Bible, newspapers and other literature are now published in the
_musical_ Cherokee language.

The Catawba Indians, contiguous to our southern borders, and once so
numerous and powerful, have dwindled down to a diminutive
remnant--mostly half breeds. They inhabited in their palmiest days
much of the territory south of the Tuscaroras, and adjoining the
Cherokees. For their general adherence to the patriots in the
Revolution they have always received the fostering care of the State.
They own a tract of land ten miles square in the south-east corner of
York county, South Carolina. They speak a different language from the
Cherokees, but possessing a similarity of musical sounds. They gave
origin to the name of the noble river along whose banks, in its
southern meanderings and its larger tributaries their lingering signs
of former habitation are frequently visible, informing us here they
once flourished in their simple avocations and enjoyments of the
forest, and now excite our commiseration in their gradual decay and
probable future extinction.


In conclusion, the author would remark that other historic materials
are on hand, in a partial state of preparation, which may hereafter be
published. The history of "liberty's story" in the "Old North State,"
with all its grand array of early patriotic developments, has never
been fully presented to the world. The field of research is still far
from being exhausted, and it is hoped others--descendants, it may be,
of our illustrious forefathers, will prosecute the same line of
investigation as herein attempted.

For the present, this series of sketches, with their unavoidable
omissions and imperfections, craving indulgent criticism, will come to
an end.


[A: Bancroft, I., p. 270.]

[B: Bancroft. Vol. II., p. 158.]

[C: Wheelers Sketches, I., p. 30.]

[D: Wheeler's Sketches, I., p. 49.]

[E: Wheeler's Sketches, I., p. 50.]

[F: Foote's Sketches of North Carolina, p. 83.]

[G: General Moultrie, in sneaking of this engagement in his "Memoirs
of the American Revolution," says: "When General Sumter began this
attack he had not more than ten rounds of ball to a man; but before
the action was over, he was amply supplied with arms and ammunition
from the British and Tories that fell in the beginning."]

[H: "Virtue affords no exemption from death."]

[I: "Beautiful, although dead."]

[J: Tarleton's Southern Campaigns, p. 94.]

[K: Lossing's "Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution," vol. II, p.

Back to Transcribed Books

Back to NC in the Revolutionary War Home Page