Chapter 2


The settlement of the wilderness began at the close of the Indian Wars. At first a few "squatters" cleared small patch's of unclaimed land and built log cabins. Soon, the Royal Proprietors, foreseeing the advantages of settlements, began to offer cheap land in North Carolina to the refugees who had flooded the northern provinces as a result of wars in Europe. Within a few months a tidal wave of immigrants was flowing down the old Trading Path, bound for this "Promised Land."

COLONEL William Byrd of Virginia, while surveying the boundary between that Province and the Carolinas in 1728, wrote an interesting account of the Haw River country:

"Between Eno and Saxapahaw Rivers are the Haws Old Fields, which have the reputation of containing the most fertile high land in this part of the World, lying in a Body of about 50,000 acres . . .

"Some Mountains overlook this Rich Spot of Land, from whence all the soil washes down into the Plane, and is the cause of its exceeding fertility. Not far from thence the Path crosses ARAMANCHY River, a branch of the Saxapahaw . . ."*

Few facts in Alamance County history are more disputed than the origin of the name "Alamance." Colonel Byrd's journal is the first place, apparently, in which the name is mentioned. Although some sources claim that "Alamance" was named by early German immigrants who came here from the "Alemanni" region of the Rhineland,1 others claim that the Indians called the Alamance Creek by the Indian word "Amonsi" or "Alamons,"

*Byrd, William. History of the Dividing Line, W. K. Boyd, ed., Raleigh, 1929.

1. Stockard, Sallie. History of Alamance, Raleigh, 1900.



which meant "Noisy River; * or by another word which meant "Blue Clay."1 There is a definite Indian resonance in Colonel Byrd's appellation "Aramanchy"; and since there were few, if any, German settlers in this section in 1728, it seems plausible that the Germans later corrupted the Indian name into the present form "Alamance."



Hundreds of Lutheran and Reformed families fled from the religious persecution and war desolation in Europe in the late seventeenth century, and crossed the Atlantic to Pennsylvania, where there were already well-established colonies of "Pennsylvania Deutsch", who spoke a familiar language and observed the customs of the "old country." By 1707 Pennsylvania and the other northern provinces were crowded and the best lands east of the Alleghany mountains had been claimed. Not daring to venture westward beyond the mountains, new families began to push farther south, where the rich valleys of Maryland and Virginia and the Piedmont region of the Carolinas beckoned to them.

To encourage such migration, the Carolina Proprietors offered land cheaply. "Lands are so very cheap," one Carolina resident wrote, "that .. . Six Hundred and Forty Acres . . . will cost three or four pounds Sterl. or the value in Carolina money . . . free from all Taxes . . . "2

By the year 1740 many immigrants were heading toward the Haw River country. Three distinct groups led the movement and established colonies in the area which became Alamance County. To the Cane Creek section, near the present village of Snow Camp, came a group of Pennsylvania Quakers; east and north of the Haw River settled Scotch-Irish Presbyterians; and along the western boundary of Alamance Creek a large number of Lutheran and Reformed settlers found new homes. Most of them were agriculturists, and few villages were built.

Ancestral traces of many present-day families can be discovered in the records of these early settlers.

How they began, a WPA Federal Writers Project, Raleigh, 1941.

1. Henry London in a speech delivered at the unveiling of the Confederate Monument in Graham, May 16, 1914. Quoted in: Long, Will S., Jr. An Historical Sketch, etc., typewritten manuscript, May Memorial Library, Burlington.

2. Brickell, John. The Natural History of N.C. etc.; Dublin, 1711.



Along the Alamance were the Albrights, Holts, Shoffners, Mosers, Isleys, Kimes, Staleys, Halls, Trolingers, Whitsetts, Heltons, Hornadays, Reitzels, and other Germanic folk.

In the Hawfields region settled the Stayhorns, Craigs, Blackwoods, Kirklands, Freelands, Mebanes, Tates, Harts, Nelsons, Mitchells, Johnstons, Pattersons, Martins, Coxes, Watsons, Wests, Whites, Murpheys, Hunters, Stockards, Trousdales, Turners, Clendenins, Montgomerys, Steeles, Marats, Pegotts, and others.

The Williamsons, Whites, Lindleys, Woodys, Staffords, Cooks, Puryears, Newlins, Scotts, Ruffins, Pughs, Allens, Pikes, Stuarts, Marshalls, Dixons, Moons, Kimballs, Hadleys, Braxtons, Holadays, Wilsons, Nicholsons, and Hutchinsons appear in the earliest Quaker records.

In the year 1927, the Cane Creek Friends erected a monument to commemorate these pioneering days, and to honor one Alexander Stuart, one of the first immigrants to arrive here. The monument was placed in the Cane Creek church cemetery.

"In selecting one of the early settlers of the community to honor with a monument," wrote a local newspaperman, "the Cane Creek Memorial Association picked out a man whose chief claim to immortality lies in the fact that he was an honest hard working farmer . . . the first time in the entire South that a monument has been erected to a farmer simply because he was a farmer."*


Leaving his family behind with friends, the early pioneer set out from Pennsylvania on horseback to seek a new home. He crossed the beautiful Cumberland and Shenandoah Valleys in early spring. Here he found a few Irish families settled, but they informed him that the Shawnee Indians were on the warpath and advised that he go farther southward. Beyond Virginia the signs of civilization decreased. Often the horse and its rider must swim a river or a creek which offered no fording place, and the trail became almost invisible.

With good weather, the Pennsylvanian reached North Carolina in less than one month. There were only a few secluded cabins in this country; yet there seemed an almost boundless natural

* Greensboro Daily News, Sunday, August 28, 1927.



The pioneer road from Pennsylvania to the Carolinas was long and difficult. Often the trail came to an abrupt end at some river bank and the traveller had to ford the treacherous stream on horseback.

wealth 3/4 virgin forest, good land, abundant water. Indeed, this was the place he sought! After selecting the tract he liked best, the pioneer sent for the land agent who held a patent or title to the property. The tract was surveyed and arrangements were made for a deed to be ready when the new owner returned with his family in autumn.

By this time word had spread through the countryside, and a group of "neighbors" left their homes miles away and came to help the new settler clear his fields, plant his crops, build his fences and raise his log home. The frontiersman was usually glad that a new family had come to make their home in the wilderness, bringing news of the outside world and offering a helping hand for the tasks which one family could not do alone. When the cabin was



completed, the new settler left its care to these "neighbors" and climbed into his saddle for the journey northward.

In Pennsylvania many things had to be done in preparation for the trek to Carolina. The family sold everything they could not carry with them, and purchased three or four strong horses, or perhaps two yoke of oxen, and a heavy but commodious wagon. Into the wagon went every available article for the farm and home, leaving Just enough space for the women and small children and the family bedding. Behind the wagon a milch cow or two was tethered to the axle. The elder children would drive a small flock of sheep and a few hogs. All of these things were necessities, for there was no room for the luxuries which the family had possessed. When all preparations were completed, the departing family gathered for a last time in the village meeting house to receive the best wishes and the prayers of those whom they were leaving some perhaps forever.

 Finally the journey got underway. Ahead lay 400 miles of little-traveled territory, presenting frequent difficulties and dangers. Slowly the big wagon creaked along the trail, rocking the pioneer mother who sat beside her husband on the broad wagon seat, cradling a baby in her arms and dreaming of her new home.

 Behind the wagon the children walked, laughing and shouting and telling each other what they would do in Carolina





 This marker in Alamance village

denotes the route of the

Old Trading Path which

was used by the Indians

and the early settlers

of Alamance County







Avoiding the hazardous stretches of the Blue Ridge mountains, the little caravan wound its way along the "Lower Trail" or Trading Path. Deep ruts in the road slowed the wagon and when it rained the road became impassable for several days. At night after the family had made camp, the children gathered around the glowing camp fires with excitement and adventure in their eyes, and their father told them stories of the wonderful place to which they were going. When the fire had burned low, the family would lie beneath the stars and dream of the promised land.

Some food they had brought with them, ham and tongue, chocolate, tea and coffee, and salt. Johnny-cake was baked over the evening campfire. For breakfast there was thick mush made from corn meal. Occasionally a little meat could be bought from a farmer who lived beside the road; and when there was no good pasture, the Journey halted while oats were threshed at some farm so they might buy some for the horses.

These were hard-working, simple, thrifty people. On weekdays they averaged ten miles a day, but on the Sabbath they stopped the wagon and spent the day in rest and thanksgiving. Only with strong faith could they endure the hardships which lay before them.

Late in August the wagon rolled across the ford on Haw River and soon arrived at the sturdy little cabin which was its destination. Much work now faced them. The cabin was soon swept and scrubbed and filled with the few items of furniture which had been brought on the long trip. Every member of the family busied himself or herself with the task of turning the wilderness into a home. the pioneer home

The cabin of the small farmer was not sufficiently large to contain much furniture, nor were there servants to care for it, so the family possessed only a few useful pieces. A chest, a table, a few beds and a stool or two completed the furnishings. Working with his nearest neighbor who owned an adz or crosscut saw, the pioneer felled a fine walnut or poplar tree and laboriously sawed it into planks. Put together with wooden pegs or notched to fit at the corners, in the place of scarce iron nails, these planks made a crude but serviceable piece of furniture. As soon as the region became more settled, some industrious person usually built a dam and set up a saw mill driven by water power.




To make the wilderness a civilized country, the pioneer settler faced the tremendous tasks of clearing forest land, building his own cabin, and producing the necessities of life from the soil.



Even with the endless forests, however, lumber was expensive. As the size of the tracts of land became smaller the farther the settlers pushed into the wilderness, so, too, did the houses. Hewn logs formed the walls of the cabin and clay or split poles stopped the crevices. Many of these homes were covered with clapboards, which were similar to shingles, but usually about three, feet long and one foot wide. One or two rooms with a loft or "lean-to" constituted the average home. There were one door and a couple of windows. The chimneys were often made of wood and were daubed with clay inside and outside to prevent them from burning.

The inside of these homes, though not well-equipped, was fairly comfortable. The fire place was about four or five feet wide and six feet high. When there were two rooms, one was used for a kitchen and served the double purpose of being a sitting room as well. The floor was sanded, and from the rafters overhead hung strings of red peppers, ears of corn and bags of feathers. It was here the household industries were carried on3/4 churning, spinning, weaving, candle-making and soap-making. Plates, bowls and spoons were usually made of pewter, except in some instances when they were carved from wood. The travelling pewter moulder with his spoon and dish moulds, did his work in the kitchen, living with the family until his job was accomplished and then going on to the next family desirous of his services. After the day's work the kitchen became the gathering place for the family. It was not until more rooms were added to the house that the kitchen became a separate building.

In the wills of early families, where there was little else mentioned, the children were often given a feather bed and some pewter, either made up or in bulk. Glass windows and china cups and saucers were considered signs of prosperity on the frontier, but these had to be hauled from distant ports in eastern Carolina. The location of inland cabins was so uncertain that it was wiser to manufacture the essential items nearby.

The small farmers composed the largest social group and worked their land with their own hands or with the aid of a few slaves. Unaccustomed to the climate and ignorant of the laws of sanitation, a great number of early inhabitants became victims of malaria and other diseases. The life of the farmer was characterized



by hardships. If his crops produced more than he absolutely needed 3/4 which occurred seldom3/4 he sent the extra yield down to some eastern market and exchanged it for a few panes of glass or some. chinaware, or perhaps for a few yards of cloth of finer material than could be woven at home.

An excellent description of these days can be found in records of the Moravians who migrated at the same time from Pennsylvania and settled in a colony called Bethabara, near the present City of Winston-Salem. In the year 1759, a Moravian woman wrote:

"From the beginning our craftsmen had furnished the most necessary articles, shoes, flour, pottery, buckskin breeches, and the like, but such things as salt, glass for window panes, sugar, coffee, and spices must be brought from the outside. Apart from occasional shipments from Bethlehem (the Moravian colony in Pennsylvania) we had been dependent on what could be secured from Springhill, a storehouse which had been built on Cape Fear River, (later to become Fayetteville), to which flat-bottomed boats brought some supplies from the harbor at Brunswick. To Springhill our wagons took flour, and brought back salt and whatever else could be found there . . . Many deer-skins were . . . brought to Bethabara to be bartered for goods at our store . . . It was decided to . . . send deerskins to Charleston, to be exchanged for molasses, wine, hardware, glass . . . "*

Springhill, Charleston, and Petersburg also became the trading places for those who settled in Alamance County.


On November 6, 1728, Edward Mosely, a land agent for the Right Honorable Earl of Granville, who was a proprietor of the Province of North Carolina, patented or claimed 10,000 acres of land in the fertile Haw's Old Fields region. Within a few years this became an extremely valuable possession.

In 1730, it was said that Earl Granville became involved in a gambling debt to Lord Burrington of London, a former governor of North Carolina, and paid the debt by giving Burrington the tract in Haw's Old Fields.

Tracing further this property, we find a deed dated April 10, 1754:

* Road to Salem, Fries, Adelaide L., ed., Chapel Hill, 1944.



"Between George Burrington, late Governor of North Carolina, but now residing in the Parish of St. Margaret, Westminster county, Middlesex, and Sam'l Strudwick of Mortimer street, in the Parish of St. Marylborn, in said County Middlesex, and son of Edmund Strudwick. Consideration . . . ten thousand acres. Haw Old Fields, northwest Cape Fear . . . Being a part of a tract of land pattented by Edward Mosely, Nov. 1718 . . . "*

Samuel Strudwick found many "squatters" living on this property, families who had built their homes on the immense tract without securing a deed. To get them off the Strudwick land was a matter of litigation in the courts for many years. For legal services rendered in these cases, a member of the Ashe family received a large tract of the property known as the Austin Quarter, below the present village of Saxapahaw. There today, in the old family burial ground, is interred the remains of Governor Samuel Ashe, who died at his summer residence on this estate.

Evidence of the increasing population appears in the names of settlers who purchased a part of the original 10,000 acres in the succeeding years. These included Alexander Mebane, John Thompson, J. Steele, John Kennedy, James Christmas, Allen Sykes, Jennings Gibson, Thomas Lesley, Thomas Bradshaw, John O'Daniel, William Nash, S. Kirkpatrick, Benjamin Dixon, Lewis Kirk, James Mebane, James Moore, William Woody, Luke Grimes, James Turner, William Paris, James Clendenin, James Thompson, Elisha Kirk. John Jones, Nathan Christmas, John Johnson, William Crutchfield, John Nelson, John Justice, William Waters, James Patter-son, E. McDaniel, John Pugh, Samuel Stewart, Ruben Smith, William Freshwater, R. Woods, Va. Moore, and S. Bradshaw.

Besides the Haw Field's tract, Earl Granville owned, at one time, most of the remaining area of the present Alamance County. Mosely and Holten and, later, Childs and Corbin were his land agents, and early deeds generally bear their signatures. Many of these deeds are still legible, and from them we get much information about early settlement.

In the year 1744, Benjamin Martin leased 600 acres on the west side of Haw River and on both sides of Cane Creek from Granville's agents, agreeing to pay "3/4 shillings sterling per hundred acres per year or four shillings Proclamation money at or

* Stockard. Op. Cit.

The final resting place of Simon Dixon, patriarch of Snow Camp and one of this county's earliest settlers, is marked in the Cane Creek Friends' cemetery by a stone mill wheel which Mr. Dixon is said to have brought with him from Pennsylvania.



Lord Cornwallis and his British Army camped at Simon Dixon's grist mill near the Cane Creek Meeting House, following their retreat from the Revolutionary Battle of Guilford Courthouse. This monument in the old Quaker cemetery was erected to the memory of the soldiers who died during their encampment at the settlement, which, according to legend, they named "Snow Camp."



upon the two most usual feast days-the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Michael, the Arch Angel." On May 2, 1775, Martin deeded this same tract to one William Johnson for sixty pounds, including all the houses, gardens, orchards, fences and improvements.

William Cox, a planter, bought from William Pegott, a saddler, one hundred acres of land on the south side of Haw River and on Cane Creek in September, 1755, in consideration of 28 pounds Virginia money. This tract had been granted to Pegott by Granville's agents. In the same year, George Yate, Governor of Virginia, paid fifteen pounds Virginia money, for a tract of land lying on the north side of Haw River owned by John Rogers.

James Watson sold to William Marat a parcel of land lying on a stream then called Watson's Creek, containing 527 acres. John and Alexander West purchased land along Stoney Creek in the same year, and Jacob Albright deeded to John Albright 150 acres on the south side of Great Alamance Creek.

Caunrad or Conrad Langua owned the land west of Haw River where Graham now stands.

In the early 1740's trouble began to rise between Granville's agents and the settlers. Childs and Corbin, who had succeeded Mosely and Holten, received only a five percent commission on property sales and a salary of two hundred pounds. One of these agents, pretending to be a lawyer, spread the report that any settler whose deed did not bear the complete signature, "the Right Honorable Earl Granville, by his attorneys, etc." had no valid claim to his land. This affected a great number of settlers whose deeds were simply signed "Granville, by his attorneys."

Helpless against such corrupt practices, several families left the Hawfields community and founded a settlement at New Hope. Others relented and paid Childs and Corbin double the original price for a second deed with an extra survey fee in addition.

From this affair smouldered a hatred which would lead to the Battle of Alamance three decades later.

The State Legislature in 1759 passed an act establishing the town of Childsborough on the lands of William Churton east of Haw River. It was named for Thomas Childs, then Attorney-General of the Province; but when Childs was found guilty of



extortion, inhabitants changed the name of the village to Hills-borough in tribute to Lord Hillsboro, British Secretary of State for American Affairs.

A court was in session at Childsborough by 1762, and issued an order for the building of a jail and stockades. The next year it appointed overseers to care for the roads and named a committee to supervise the opening of a road from Island Ford on Haw River to Childsborough.

Hugh Smith was granted a license in 1763 to operate a tavern on Stinking Quarters Creek, southwest of Alamance, and Robert Hunter was permitted to open a tavern at his dwelling house on Haw River. Michael Holt, Sr., and his son, Michael, Jr., were appointed on a committee to lay out, value and condemn one acre of land at each side of the trading path where it crossed Haw River, on which tract Henry Eustice McCulloch might erect a grist mill.

In 1754 the taxable population of Orange County, which then included Alamance, was listed as 950 white men, 35 negroes and 15 women-and there are indications that more than a thousand families had settled within the area.

Moravian Bishop Spangenberg toured the Province in 1752 and wrote:

"Having crossed the length and breadth of North Carolina we have found towards the mountains many families are moving in from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and even New England; in this year alone more than four hundred families have come with horses, wagon and cattle. Among them . . . sturdy farmers and skilled men, and we hope they will greatly help Carolina."

Several of the villages and towns of the county developed around the early grist mills and taverns which were built near damsites along Haw River.




The present Cane Creek Friends Meeting House (at top) stands just a few feet from the site of the original worship house of the Cane Creek Meeting, which was founded by Quaker settlers in 1741.

Hawfields Presbyterian Church (at bottom) was established by early Alamance settlers, many of whom are buried in the adjoining church cemetery. This church was the parent of the present day Presbyterian congregations in Alamance County.



Chapter 6

Chapter 11

Chapter 16

Chapter 21

Chapter 1

Chapter 7

Chapter 12

Chapter 17


Chapter 3

Chapter 8

Chapter 13

Chapter 18

Book Index

Chapter 4

Chapter 9

Chapter 14

Chapter 19

Chapter 5

Chapter 10

Chapter 15

Chapter 20