North Carolina Pioneers

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Archaelogists Dig for Answers. Shouldn't Genealogists Do the Same?

old farmHow often have you passed old corn fields and apple orchards on the road? An old torn-down barn, red bricks scattered in the yard, the remains of a few budding jonquils and daylilies? Did you have the impression of an unpleasant existence? If you found where the out-house stood, you might notice that old bottles and trash were dumped in that hole. And the well might house a few relics of the past lives of our ancestors. Ironically, archaelogists do not see open space as a depressing wilderness. In fact, they are prepared to dig deep into the soil to find more evidence of past generations. The key is to locate the old home site of the ancestors, then examine everything, including the markings of tractor tires. Every grave in this country has not been located. In fact, there are many graves around old farms which can be discovered by noticing humps in the soil and broken slate tombstones buried under weeds. Nearby woods, full of briars and scrub trees and bushes, were once cleared and planted. When you walk across a deserted field, do you ever think that graves may lie under your feet? Or that the rutted terrain could be an old road? How about the dried up pond? Is that a good place to search for relics? Just as treasures are hid under the ground, information is hidden in old documents found at court houses. Plats, deeds, wills, estates, tax digests, etc. Most genealogists do not see their ancestors at first glance. That is because they were searching for one name only. However, a visit to the family cemetery will reveal relatives and friends, and husbands of the daughters. It is advisable to become familiar with these names and recognized them in other documents. I have searched for one particular family for more than 40 years. However, not until I sat down and read every last will and testament written in that county (for a specified era) as well as the estate sales, old deeds and tax digests, did I realize that it was all there in the subtle inference of family members. A familiarity with the people in the neighborhood is invaluable in realizing that some of them were kin and piecing together the puzzle.

Hunting Creek

Hunting Creek

Major William Gill of Hunting Creek

Grave of Thomas YoungGrave of Thomas Young on Hunting Creek in Iredell County. During the year of 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 form a common corner. At the time, he was past the age for military service, but 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, Virginia. One of Young's sons-in-law was Major William Gill who was connected with the staff of General Washington and served in the capacity of aid to the Commander-in-chief in 1778. While on the battlefield of Brandywine, Major Gill 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. Major Gill was with General Washington at the surrender of Cornwallis in Yorktown. After the war, Major Gill settled on Rocky Creek near the village of Olin, and upin his death was interred in the family burial ground of his father-in-law. Also, generally unknown to historians, is the fact 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, a fact attested to by the surviving members of the family of Major Gill.

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Defeat of the Cherokee at Fort Dobbs

Fort Dobbs As new settlers flowed into the North Carolina frontier, friction with the natives was due to occur. During the French and Indian Wars from 1754 to 1763, all males between the ages of sixteen and sixty were required to serve in the North Carolina Militia. A battle ferocious battle occurred in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains near the town of Statesville. The result was that the Cherokee Indians surrendered their claim to vast amounts of land!

Impressions in the Soil

broken tombstones While visiting cemeteries, no doubt everyone has noticed the flat impressions in the soil which suggest a burial. Actually, if we observe closely, there are many burials without markers or tombstones. Not much time has to pass before a grave is lost in the transmogrification of the soil. For example, slate, which was in popular use as tombstones in former times, breaks and falls to the ground. The rains fall into the concavity. After awhile, the fragments of the tombstone disappears. Stone markers also crumble and fall to the ground. And if that did not occur naturally, the graveyard was likely vandalized. Perhaps, if we dig around an impression, we will discover another grave. Nevertheless, should this impression be located in a family grave-lot or nearby, we are aware that someone is missing. Consider the time when Egyptian burial sites were were dug up, and mummies used for fire, or taken on tour around the world and displayed for money. Museums acquire skulls and skeletons. Smithsonian Institute has gobs of them.

Scouts and Soldiers

Thomas Brotherton first enlisted in the Revolutionary War for three months and marched to Fayetteville where he was a guard. His first assignment ended in the Spring of 1775. At this time in history, the British Army was a volunteer force which numbered about 45,000 men who were thinly spread throughout the countryside. For the lack of troops the British hired contingents of German mercenaries to serve as auxiliaries alongside the regular army units. They were included in the campaigns starting in 1776. The British also enlisted Native Americans to menace the Americans. Thus, the patriots had to send scouts to locate the natives. So, in the fall of the year, Brotherton was sent against the Cherokee Indians and later to guard the frontier at the head of the Catawba River in Burke County. In 1778, he volunteered again and marched with Capt. Richard Graham to Guilford Court House, then to Dicks Ferry, Moore's Creek and Salisbury. From his pension, he marched with Captain Swan, the Lieutenant of Infantry, to Charleston, thence to Stono where he was slightly wounded in the breast. He was discharged inn 1779 after scouting for Tories in the counties of Wilkes and Iredell.

Iredell County Wills and Estates

Statesville, North Carolina Iredell County was formed in 1788 and was taken from parts of Rowan County. James Iredell was one of the leaders of the state advocating the adoption of the Federal Constitution, and President George Washington appointed him a Judge on the United States Supreme Court in 1790. Statesville was established in 1789 as the county seat.

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


  • Graham, John LWT (1821)
  • Summers, Benjamin (LWT)
  • 1788 Map of Liberty Hill District of Iredell County; Showing Landowners

Images of Wills 1800 to 1808

Testators: Adams, Elizabeth | Alexander, Allen | Alexander, Gabriel | Alexander, Sarah | Allen, Moses | Allison, Adam | Allison, Magdalene | Allison, Theophilis | Allison, Thomas | Archibald, Thomas | Baker, John | Barkley, James Sr.| Beal, David | Beale, Robert | Beall, Zachariah | Beard, William | Beaty, James | Beggarty, Benjamin | Bell, Walter | Black, David | Black, Rebekah | Black, William | Black, William W. | Bone, William | Bonman, Hugh | Borden, Joseph | Boyle, Robert | Brovard, Robert | Brovard, Sarah | Brown, John | Brown, Margaret | Bruce, Peter | Caldwell, Matthew | Campbell, Oslin | Carson, Robert | Clayton, George | Clayton, Sarah | Clenening, Matthew | Cook, Abraham | Cook, Richard | Cook, Thomas | Cooke, Margaret Sr. | Couts, Benjamin | Crawford, David | Criswell, John | Criswell, William | Davidson, George | Davidson, Joseph | Davidson, William | Dotson, Robert | Duncan, Elizabeth | Edmonston, Margaret | Edmund, John | Ellis, Samuel | Erwin, James | Erwin, John | Erwin, Thomas | Ewing, Alexander | Finch, John | Forkner, Emanuel | Fortune, Jesse | Freeland, Andrew | Gaither, John | Gaither, Nicholas | Gaither, Sarah | Galton, Azariah | Gill, William | Givens, Agnes | Goodman, Bartholomew | Gordon, Robert | Graham, John | Gray, Robert | Gray, Thomas | Guy, James | Hains, James | Hains, Ralph | Hair, Daniel | Hair, Esther | Hall, Hugh | Hall, James | Hall, Thomas | Hall, William and Elizabeth | Harris, Samuel | Hendley, John | Hill, Abraham | Hill, Agnes | Hill, John | Hill, Robert | Holmes, Mary | Houston, Samuel | Hughey, John | Hughey, Patrick | Ireland, William | Irvin, Robert | Johnston, Will | Kee, James | Kemp, Nancy | Kerr, Andrew | Killpatrick, Andrew | King, James | King, John | King, Thomas | Laffle, Verlinda | Larson, Anthony | Lewis, Richard | Lovelace, Casander | Lovelace, Charles | Marlow, Thomas | McConnell, James | McConnell, John Sr. | McConnell, Mary | McCorkle, Alexander | McCorkle, Rebekah | McCoy, Charles | McCullock, John | McCullock, Margaret | McGuire, Thomas | McKay, Robert | McKee, Margaret | McLean, John | McLellan, John | McLelland, Mary | McDonald, Alexander | McKay, George | McKnight, Hugh | McPherson,Robert | Mitchel, Andrew | Morrison, John | Nelson, Elizabeth | Potts, James | Pruet, Jordan | Rice, John | Roby, John | Semour, Henry | Sharpe, Abner | Sharpe, John | Sharpe, Thomas | Sloan, Robert | Smith, John | Steel, Samuel | Stevenson, William | Summers, John | Tarr, Samuel | Terrence, Ann | Terrence, Hugh | Thompson, John | Waddell, David | Watts, William | Webb, Caleb | Wiley, George | Willson, John | Willson, Samuel | Witherspoon, John | Wocke, William | Woodside, Robert