William Cathey purchased land near Turkey Cove at the foot of the mountains where Cove Creek joined the north fork of the Catawba River and
built a home there. During 1776, he built a fort in Burke County (now McDowell County) to protect the area from the Cherokee Indians.
For a long while it was the furtherest military outpost in North Carolina during the Revolutionary War until Fort Davidson was constructed.
As Europeans encroached upon Cherokee lands, native hostilities erupted well before the Revolutionary War. Before that, mostly explorers and
traders hunted the wilderness at the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains. By 1750, although only a few Cherokee villages remained, the natives
claimed the territory. Among those sent to defend this fort was John Franklin of Burke County, who, during 1777, was sent to Fort Cathey for three months under the
command of Captain Homer Watson. During his next service, he was sent to Fort Davidson under the command of Captain Charles McDowell. Reading the details of pension records is helpful to the researcher in gathering details.
For example, this John Franklin states that he was born at Ft. Stump, Virginia (now West Virginia).
The next step for the genealogists is to actually locate this site and research all of the surrounding counties.
Culgee Watson, the Hermit on Ginger Cake Mountain
Ginger Cake Mountain derives its name from a singular pile of rocks which occupy its extreme summit. The pile is composed of two masses of
rock of different materials and form, and they are arranged as if to stand upon a small base. The lower section is composed of rough
slate stone, and is in the form of an inverted pyramid, while the upper section is of solid granite which surmounts the lower section in a
horizontal position. The rock display offers the viewer the appearance of a masterful work of art. One has the sense of teetering off into space. The
mountain was named by Culgee Watson, a hermit who resided at the foot of the mountain in about 1800 and died in 1816. He lived inside of a
small cabin and was considered to be eccentric, yet friendly. Whenever a party of ladies visited him, he treated them politely, without speaking to them.
Once, after the ladies had left, he had so disliked the visit that he tore down his fence and used it for firewood. Source: Letters from the Alleghany Mountains by Charles Lanman (1849).
Linville Falls in the Blue Ridge Mountains
The falls are situated on the Linville River, which is a tributary of the Catawba River. As one approaches, he encounters the wild scenery
as it has thrived for hundreds of years, as though Nature planted the surrounding forest in every imaginable spot in a futile attempt to
cloak this beauty from the eyes of the world. Then suddenly there is the loud roaring sound of musical water as it plunges itself into a deep pool
hemmed in by gray granite rock. The falls are about 150 feet broad and the water source threads through lofty cliffs clustered in a profusion of
beautiful vines and flowers. And all along the gorge, waiting to be discovered, are numerous enchanting caverns.
Guarding the Catawba River Against the Cherokees
During the spring of 1775, Thomas Brotherton, a resident of Wilkes County, North Carolina, volunteered to serve in the Revolutionary War under Captain Nicholas, Major McGuire, Colonel Socks and General Rutherford at Salisbury and was marched to Fayetteville where he guarded for sometime. He was discharged and did not re-enlist until the fall of 1775 (under the same officers)to go against Cherokees. Afterwards, he helped to guard the frontiers at the head of the Catawba River in Burke County. Later, he was wounded at Stono and discharged at Bacons Bridge in September of 1779.
Mountain scenes in Burke County, North Carolina. Burke county was formed from Rowan County in 1777 and was named after Thomas Burke, a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1777 to 1781. Also, he served as Governor of the State of North Carolina from 1781 to 1782. Most of this region was settled by many Scots-Irish and German immigrants. In 1791, parts of Burke County and Rutherford County were combined to form Buncombe County. In 1833, Yancey County was formed from parts of Burke County and Buncombe County. In 1841, parts of Burke County and Wilkes County formed Caldwell County and during 1842 additional parts of Burke County and Rutherford County were combined to make McDowell County. Finally, in 1861, parts of Burke County, Caldwell County, McDowell County, Watauga County and Yancey County were combined to form Mitchell County. Burke County citizens participated in the Battle of Kings Mountain which pitted Appalachian frontiersmen against the loyalist forces of the British commander Ferguson at Kings Mountain, South Carolina during the American Revolution, and were called "Over the Mountain Men" because the militia men did not wait bur crossed over the Blue Ridge mountains to engage the fight.
The earliest records of Burke County is a problem to genealogists because the ink in the will book dating from 1793 faded beyond recognition.