North Carolina Pioneers

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Town of Hillsboro in 1768

Hillsboro, North Carolina Sauthier's Plan of Hillsboro, 1768. The majority of the buildings shown on the maps have disappeared, however the town is depicted as it was in 1768. The Sauthier map dated October 1768 was made after the spring uprising of the Regulators in that town and immediately following the arrival of Governor Tryon in September. From this it may be suspected that (in commissioning the map) Governor Tryon had military maneuvers in mind. The little town is shown on the Eno River in the wooded land of Orange County. The big star at upper left shows north, south, east, and west, and one notes that the town seems to be laid out "properly" on these directions. Roads leading to neighboring towns are carefully marked. There are the Roads from Salisbury to Virginia; to Halifax; to New Bern; to the Quaker Settlement; and to Cross Creek. Observing the layout of the land roads, the genealogist may imagine the routes taken by his ancestors. At lower left is Oakaneetche Mountain, which was a great hump of earth overlooking Hillsboro. Another of the Occoneechee mountains is seen at the edge of the map. The Occoneechee Indians were one of several Indian tribes in the area. Later on, boy scouts in this part of Orange County belonged to the Occoneechee Council and had camporees at the Hillsboro race ground, not far from the "Race Ground" marked on our map. This Race Ground lies neatly within a bend in the Eno River, as though the river wanted to mark out this area of flat land for such special use and farms were scattered outside of the town. The rectangular plots of farm land are clearly marked, and the farm houses and secondary buildings are placed at corners convenient to the road.

Protests in North Carolina, a Precurser to the American Revolution

The Regulators Before the Revolutionary War, the colonists were protesting unfair English taxes imposed by local court systems. The courts were guilty of taxing the communities for various and sundry reasons. Protests were lodged throughout the colonies in the local courts. Complaints were generally ignored. The voice of the people did not disappear, however, as communities became strong in their desire for personal freedom. In North Carolina, citizens against the "Regulators" proceeded to bring county officials to task for charging illegal fees for the purpose of putting down highwaymen and correcting abuses in the back country. Citizens refused to pay the taxes and when they failed to secure a redress of grievances in the local court using legal channels, they lodged public protests. A public demonstration in 1768 refusing to pay taxes was so powerfully influential among the citzenry that Governor William Tryon of North Carolina called out the provincial militia, and marched with a great show of force through the disaffected regions and succeeded in collecting the assessments. Thereafter, a suit was brought against Edmund Fanning, Register, and Francis Nash, Clerk of Orange County, charging that both be "found guilty of taking too high fees." Fanning immediately resigned his commission as Register; while Nash, who in conjunction with Fanning had previously offered to refund fees to any aggrieved party which the Superior Court might hold excessive, gave bond for his appearance at the next court. The following year, in Rowan County, similar suits for extortion met with failure. The outcome aroused the bitter resentment of the Regulators who felt themselves so deeply aggrieved that they proceeded to drive the justices from the bench by threatening court officials with violence. On September 22, 1770 in Hillsborough, the complainants petitioned the court demanding unprejudiced juries as well as a public accounting for taxes received by the sheriffs. In this petition occur these trenchant words: "As we are serious and in good earnest and the cause respects the whole body of the people it would be a loss of time to enter into arguments on particular points for though there are a few men who have the gift and art of reasoning, yet every man has a feeling and knows when he has justice done him as well as the most learned." When court convened on the following Monday, one hundred and fifty citizens led by James Hunter, Herman Husband, Rednap Howell and others, armed with clubs, whips, and cudgels, surged into the court-room and through their spokesman, Jeremiah Fields, presented a statement of their grievances. "I found myself," says Judge Henderson, "under a necessity of attempting to soften and turn away the fury of these mad people, in the best manner in my power, and as such could well be, pacify their rage and at the same time preserve the little remaining dignity of the court."

Meanwhile, when the Regulators retired for consultation, they fell without warning upon Fanning and gave him such rough treatment that he narrowly escaped with his life. The mob, now past control, horsewhipped a number of leading lawyers and citizens gathered there at court, and treated others, notably the courtly Mr. Hooper of Boston, "with every mark of contempt and insult." Judge Henderson was assured by Fields that no harm should come to him provided he would conduct the court in accordance with the behest of the Regulators: namely, that no lawyer, save the King's Attorney, should be admitted to the court and that the cases of the Regulators should be tried with new jurors chosen by the Regulators.

The village was terrorized and the court wholly unprotected. Judge Henderson reluctantly acknowledged to himself that "the power of the judiciary was exhausted." Nevertheless, he said: "I made every effort in my power consistent with my office and the duty the public is entitled to claim to preserve peace and good order." Agreeing under duress to resume the session the following day, the judge ordered an adjournment. But later decided not to permit another mockery of the court and a travesty of justice to be staged under threat and intimidation, he returned that night to his home in Granville. Enraged by the escape of the judge, the regulators took possession of the court room the following morning, called over the cases, and in futile protest against the conditions they were powerless to remedy, made profane entries which may still be seen on the record: "Damned rogues." Fanning pays cost but loses nothing"Negroes not worth a damn, Cost exceeds the whole" "Hogan pays and be damned," and, in a case of slander, "Nonsense, let them argue for Ferrell has gone hellward."

The feverish popular longing for freedom was stimulated by the economic pressure of thousands of pioneers who were annually entering North Carolina. It seemed to set in motion a wave of migration across the mountains in 1769. Long before Alamance, many of the true Americans, distraught by apparently irremediable injustices, plunged fearlessly into the wilderness, seeking beyond the mountains a new birth of liberty, lands of their own selection free of cost or quit-rents, and a government of their own choosing and control.

Sources: Impartial Relation by Herman Husband; The Conquest of the Old Southwest by Archibald Henderson


The Largest Troop Surrender Occurred at Bennett Place 17 Days After Robert E. Lee Surrendered to General Grant

Bennett Place The largest troop surrender during the Civil War occurred at the farmhouse of James and Nancy Bennett on Hillsborough Road, seven miles from Durham Station and about midway between the Confederate Army commanded by General Joseph E. Johnston and the Union Army commanded by Major General William T. Sherman. The armies met three times under a flag of truce to discuss surrender. The first terms of agreement with Sherman was disapproved by President Andrew Johnson, and it was not until April 26, 1865, that more than 89,270 soldiers in Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas.

135 Years of the Bingham School Academies

Bingham School The Bingham family built a series of classical academies over a period of 135 years. The first schoolmaster was a Presbyterian minister by the name of William Bingham who was born in Ireland and educated in Scotland. He emigrated to Wilmington and established a school in 1793 before establishing a school northwest of Hillsborough where he had settled in 1816. The cabins and buildings accommodated 35 to 40 students. When Bingham died in 1826, his son, William James Bingham, finished the term for him. The younger Bingham had been educated and trained by legislator and jurist Archibald D. Murphey, and soon became the principal of the Hillsborough Academy in 1827. In 1840, his brother, John Archibald Bingham, joined the administration of the school. John experimented with new strains of seed and methods of cultivation, but when he died in 1855, the school was closed. However, two years later, his sons (William and Robert) joined their father in patrnership and the school reopened as W. J. Bingham and Sons, during which the time enrollment doubled. In 1864 all three Binghams removed with the school along the North Carolina Railroad track, east of the town of Mebane, where it was known as the Bingham School which continued to operate successfully until its closing in 1928, after the death of Robert Bingham.

Land Descriptions are Sometimes Tricky

Tradition has it that Joab Brooks Sr. came from England with his parents to America. He received a land grant in Cumberland County in 1756 and removed soon thereafter to Orange County where he was granted 375 acres on the waters of Ephraim's Creek. So, where is Ephraim's Creek? There was an Ephraim Sizemore in Orange County in 1757 who resided on Tick Creek. The only way to resolve such matters is to compare it with other records, such as tax digests, and other deeds which Brooks may have witnessed. The reason is descriptions do include names of neighbors and adjoining properties, creeks, rivers, timber lands.

Tick Creek

The Battle of Hart's Mill

Battle of Harts Mill During February of 1781, Cornwallis was chasing the retreat of General Nathanael Greene and his Continental Army to the Dan River. But Greene split off a small division of men to distract the British forces while the Continental army retreated. Thus, when Lord Cornwallis reached the river, the patriots had already crossed. With no ferries available and the Dan too deep to wade, Cornwallis and his army retreated to Hillsborough. On February 17th, Captain Joseph Graham with twenty North Carolina Cavalry and Captain Richard Simmons with twenty Mounted North Carolina Militia, both acting under General Pickens, attacked and set an ambush for a British lieutenant, sergeant, twenty four privates and two loyalists at Harts Mill on Stoney Creek three miles West of Hillsborough. The British, states Graham, lost nine killed and wounded, while the remainder were taken prisoners.

The Revolutionary War Soldier in your Family




Map of Orange County

Orange County Genealogy, Wills, Estates



Orange County Court House

Orange County was formed in 1752 from parts of Bladen County, Granville County, and Johnston County. It was named for the infant William V of Orange, whose mother Anne, daughter of King George II of Great Britain, regent of the Dutch Republic. In 1771, the western portion of Orange County was combined with the eastern part of Rowan County to form Guilford County. Another part was combined with parts of Cumberland County and Johnston County to form Wake County. The southern part of what remained became Chatham County. In 1777, the northern half of what was left of Orange County became Caswell County. In 1849, the western third of the still shrinking county became Alamance County. And, in 1881 the eastern half of the county's remaining territory was combined with part of Wake County to form Durham County. Some of the first settlers of the county were English Quakers, who settled along the Haw and Eno Rivers. Pictured is the Eno River at Eno River State Park, North Carolina.

Orange County Wills and other Records Available to Members of North Carolina Pioneers

Miscellaneous Wills
  • Cleveland, John, LWT
  • Gant, Edward (1779 plat)
  • Gant, Isham (LWT 1807)
  • Gant, James (LWT 1797)
  • Gant, John (1800 LWT)
  • Manord, Larkin, LWT

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North Carolina Wills

William Hooper House
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