North Carolina Pioneers

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Migrants in the New Country

Map of Norway Generally speaking, migrants from Europe sought out their own kind in the New World. In other words, congregations of Quakers settled in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia and were eventually caught up with by other church members. This is also true of the Puritans, Moravians, Methodists, Huguenots, and other protestant groups. Occasionally, the genealogist discovers an old last will and testament filed at the court house written in German. This means that there existed a small hamlet of Germans in the vicinity. Every State has its own particular history of emigrants, however. The story of misery did not end once they arrived in the colonies, but these daring ancestors put their backs to the wheel and carved out communities all over this great land. During the settling of the colonies under English monarchs, the pioneering families had to protect their farms and homeland from marauding Indians, despite the reluctance of the Royal Governors for military assistance. When there occurred a militant situation, the local militia was called out. Every man in the county took his rifle and fought to protect his family. Many fought in the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Old pension records and muster rolls are sources of information, however, do not overlook such events as Lord Dunsmore's War and other Indian battles. In Kentucky, carrying a rifle was standard for all pioneers. As more land grants were offered to settle western territorities commencing early in the 18th century, settlers were encouraged to venture into mountainous terrain, usually inside of Indian territories. No Indian worth his salt was going to allow the white man to seize his land. Thus, skirmishes, scalping and thieving were common practice. Old maps of Indian villages are worth studying to get a broader picture of the environment. We were taught that bones were under the burial mounts, yet, recent excavations of this century has revealed the evidence of tall buildings (on the mound) which overlooked busting communities and villages. To better understand, the Dawes Rolls published after 1900, is a collection of over 32,000 applications of those persons who believed that they had 1/16th Indian blood. Applicants were from Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, no doubt descendants of those who had traveled the Trail of Tears. Although most of the applicants could not prove their lineage, a great many stories were told of particular relatives believed to be Cherokees. Getting down to the business of digging into the genealogies from a historical point of view, opens up vast avenues of knowledge, and provides answers to the question "why?" With each passing generation, the number of ancestors double on the pedigree chart. Thus, more family members are discovered the further one traces back in time. Each generation (of names) provides it own exciting history. And how quickly one discovers that they are linked to just about every event which brought their ancestors to America. In other words, the history of America was the labor and sacrifice of our own kin! George Washington and Thomas Jefferson made it to history books. However, they were surrounded by "our kin", whose sacrifices went untold. But they are there. Migrants in the New County

Six Frolicsome Young Ladies

A Mount Airy, North Carolina dispatch of August 8, 1882 related the following: "Six gay and frolicsome young ladies arrived in this place today, all rigged out and equipped for a journey on foot through the mountains of this State. The girls wear dresses even shorter than the regulation walking suit, have knap-backs strapped over their shoulders, wear road-bottomed easy shoes, dark hose, and are fixed up for comfort. They propose to take a trip on foot through all of the mountain counties of North Carolina. In their baggage they have hammocks, which will be used in case they will have to camp out at night. The trip will consume about two months, and cover a district of six or eight hundred miles. The girls are all young, the oldest probably not over 22, and the youngest 16.

Published in The Bourbon News, Millersburg, Kentucky, August 15, 1882.

Captured, but Released

Reuben Harrison volunteered for the Revolutionary War in Surry County. He was sent from Flower Gap in Surry County by Colonel Richardson Owens with a letter addressed to Colonel Benjamin Cleveland advising Cleveland when to advance upon the Tories. While on his way, he was captured by the Tories who mal-treated him and threatened to hang him. A Tory named George Roberts shook him severely to make him disclose his business, but the letter was hidden in the crown of his hat, and the Tories finally released him. Afterwards, Harrison returned safely to Flower Gap.

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The Irish in the Allegheny Mountains

Belfast Ireland During the 19th century, the Irish began to flocking to America. Settlements were in Maine, New Hampshire, the greater part of Vermont and west Massachusetts, west Pennsylvania, a large portion of Maryland, the western part of Virginia between the Blue Ridge and the Alleghany mountains, into North Carolina along the French Broad river, to the upper part of South Carolina, and into the territory now forming Tennessee and Kentucky and into the region of the Ohio River which belonged to Virginia at the time. This land was entirely settled by the Irish who did not change their names before or after leaving Ireland. These circumstances makes it possible to trace the surnames of the first settlers back to their origins in Ireland. While some of these Irish emigrants may have been of English descent, most of them became Irish by birth and were no longer in sympathy with English interests. No doubt the severe penalties inflicted upon the Irish by the Irish was a major factor in immigration. As the English invaders sympathized with the Irish, their progeny became often more Irish than those from the original Celtic stock. Thus, the descendants of many a Cromwellian soldier can be found in Ireland and abroad who ultimately opposed English rule in Ireland. "I have found reported among the debates in the Irish Parliament, a speech by the Hon. Luke Gardiner, delivered April 2d, 1784, on Irish Commerce, and from which I quote: "America was lost by Irish emigrants. These emigrations are fresh in the recollection of every gentleman in this house. I am assured, from the best authority, the major part of the American army was composed of Irish, and that the Irish language was as commonly spoken in the American ranks as English." I am also informed it was their valor determined the contest, so that England had America detached from her by force of Irish emigrants, etc. I find in (the work of) Marmion, The Ancient and Modern History of the Maritime Ports of Ireland, some interesting facts bearing upon a portion of the exodus to this country." In 1771, 1772, and 1773, over twenty-five thousand emigrants left Belfast, and other ports in that immediate neighborhood, for the American colonies, in consequence of having been evicted from one of the estates of the Marquis of Donegal, in Antrim. Marmion states, "The emigrants were chiefly farmers and manufacturers who, it was calculated, by converting their property into specie, which they took with them abroad, deprived Ulster of one fourth of its circulating medium, which then consisted altogether of specie; and also a portion equal thereto to the most valuable part of its population." Source: The Journal of the American-Irish Historical Society by Thomas Hamilton Murray, Secretary General, Vol. II, Boston, Mass. (1899).

Map of Surry County North Carolina

Surry County, North Carolina

Surry County Wills and Estates

Mt. Airy, North Carolina Surry county was formed in 1771 from Rowan County. It was named for the county of Surrey in England, birthplace of William Tryon, Governor of North Carolina from 1765 to 1771. In 1777 parts of Surry County and Washington District (now Washington County, Tennessee) were combined to form Wilkes County. In 1790, the county seat was moved to from Richmond to Rockford, then finally in 1853 to Dobson, North Carolina.

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

Images of Surry County Wills 1771 to 1783

Testators: Angel, Charles | Armstrong, William | Baker, Michael | Blackburn, Newman | Bond, Charles | Bookman, James | Bowles, Benjamin | Charles, James | Clayton, Philip | Cook, Robert | Duncan, Marshal | Elliott, Ann | Evins, Nicholas | Fishens, Frederick | Fogler, Lawrence | Forrester, Thomas | Glen, Tyree | Glenn, James | Graves, J. | Holsome, John | Hoop, George | Howard, William | Hudspeth, John | Hudspeth, Ralph | Hudspeth, William | Jones, Abraham | Ladd, Noble Sr. | Lankford, James | Masters, Joseph | McCarrol, Nathaniel | Moster, Leonard | Phillips, Bennett | Rainwater, John | Roberts, William | Romenger, David | Seidel, Nathaniel | Sheppard, James | Skidmore, Henry | Smith, William | Varnell, Richard | Walker, Warren | Ward, Charles | Ward, Richard | Wiggins, Phillip | Zinn, Margaretha

Images of Surry County Wills 1783 to 1792

Testators: Aust, Godfrey | Baker, Christopher | Blair, Hugh | Bohannon, John | Boon, Ratliff | Bradley, Perry | Burke, James | Conway, Edward | Davis, David | Denman, Hugh | Dickerson, Griffith | Dugan, Thomas | Edelman, Peter | Edwards, Gideon | Fair, Barnaby | Fulps, George | Gerber, Michael | Gillens, Richard | Goode, Thomas Sr. | Green, Samuel | Groeber, Jacob | Haun, Margaret Barbara | Hill, William | Houser, Michael | Houzar, John | Howell, Thomas | Lanier, Robert | Lash, Jacob | Linvill, David | Logan, Patrick | Meredith, James | Milton, David | Mosby, Samuel | Nelson, Solomon | Pittel, Benjamin | Pittel, Thomas | Roberson, George | Shelton, Edward | Shelton, William | Shoemaker, Adam | Smith, Joseph | Speenhouser, Henry | Speenhouser, E. R. | Strub, John Summers, Robert | Thompson, John | Turner, Elias | Vance, Samuel | Walker, Robert | Whittier, Thomas

Miscellaneous Wills

  • Wright, James, LWT