University of North Carolina at Asheville
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Biographical Sketches of the Early Settlers
of the Hopewell Section ...

by J.B. Alexander
[Is part of the Mildred A. B. White Collection]

  
Biographical Sketches, Hopewell Section, Alexander
, [Cover]
D. H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, UNC at Asheville 28804
Title Biographical Sketches of the Early Settlers of the Hopewell Section ...
Alt. Title BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF THE  EARLY SETTLERS OF THE
HOPEWELL SECTION AND Reminiscences of the Pioneers and their Descendants by
Families, with some Historical Facts and Incidents of the Times in Which They Lived.
Identifier http://toto.lib.unca.edu/findingaids/mss/white/book_white/book_white.htm
Creator J.B. Alexander
Subject Keyword Mildred A. B. White ; Biographical Sketches ; Hopewell Section ; Mecklenburg County ; North Carolina ;  Presbyterian ; religion ; Major John Davidson ; John McKnitt Alexander ; Margaret Davidson Alexander ; Sarah Davidson Alexander ; William Bain Alexander ; Rebecca Alexander ;  John Ramsey Alexander ; Benjamin W. Alexander ; George Washington Alexander ; Dr. Joseph McKnitt Alexander ; Dr. Moses Winslow Alexander ; Samuel Blythe ; John Hill ; genealogy ; genealogical ; Rev. Samuel C. Caldwell ; Isaac Johnston
Subject LCSH White, Mildred, A. B
Hopewell Community -- Mecklenburg County
Alexander, John Brevard, b. 1834 
Family records -- Hopewell -- North Carolina
Presbyterians -- Mecklenburg County -- North Carolina
Religion -- North Carolina -- History -- 18th and 19th centuries
Date Date digital : 2007-12-04 ; Date of object: 1897
Publisher [Charlotte] Observer Printing and Publishing House, 1897.
Contributor

Southern Highlands Research Center

Type Source type: text
Format [digital] image/jpeg/text ; [book] 6" x 9"
Source Mildred A.B. White Collection, D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, UNCA
Language English
Relation Alexander, J.B. (John Brevard), 1834- . The History of Mecklenburg County : from 1740 to 1900. Charlotte, N.C.: Observer Print House, 1902.
Coverage 1700's to late1800's; North Carolina
Rights Any display, publication or public use must credit D. H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville.
Copyright retained by the authors of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Donor Donor number 52
Description A 104 page book about the Hopewell Community in Mecklenburg County. Describes early Presbyterian settlers, their families, and their achievements. Contains descriptions of historical incidents and facts of the times in which these settlers lived. Slavery and anecdotal accounts of pre-Civil war era daily life are found throughout the book.
Acquisition 1979-01-22 
Citation Mildred A. B. White Collection, D. H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
Processed by Special Collections staff,  2007
Last update 2007-12-04
 

 

Box Page Item I.D. Description Thumbnail
  Cover   [Cover]

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  1   [Title page]

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES
of the 
EARLY SETTLERS
of the
HOPEWELL SECTION
AND
Reminiscences of the Pioneers and their Descendants by
Families, with some Historical Facts and Incidents
of the Times in Which They Lived.

The only way to Preserve History is to Reduce it to Writing
While the Chief Actors are Living, and have Taught
TO their Posterity without Embelishments [sic]


Written at the request of Revolutionary Descendants by
J. H. ALEXANDER, M. D.


CHARLOTTE, N. C.

Observer Printing and Publishing House,
1897

 

 
  Dedication

2

 

TO MY WIFE

Annie Lowrie Alexander, who had an aptitude for genological [sic] pursuits, and was fond of tracing family relations. And had she been permitted to have joined in the preparation of this work, it would have been more attractive to the general reader, and more accurate in detail. Trusting this offering may stimulate the descendants of her friends to further prosecute the work of gathering up all the facts pertaining to the first patriots of America, this little book is dedicated to her memory.

 
M79.1.1 3   Chapter I.
Early settlers in the Hopewell Congregation

[Describes Scotch-Irish settlers who followed the Presbyterian faith and other pioneers who came from Maryland and Pennsylvania. The climate and land in which they settled, bound by the Catawba on the west and the Rocky River to the east, is also depicted.]

There is no more historic place in America than Mecklenburg county, and in the county no spot so conspicuous for men of daring and chivalric deeds in Revolutionary times as the Hopewell settlement. This section was settled by that sturdy Scotch-Irish element who appear to have been born in the Presbyterian faith, strongly imbued with a love of liberty, religious freedom, and fair play. The majority of the pioneers came from Maryland and Pennsylvania. The section of which we write is bounded on the west by the Catawba river, taking its name from the tribe of Indians who roamed over this portion of North Carolina long after the white people established homes on its borders; bounded on the east by a high ridge without a single water course running across it for twenty miles. The rain falling on the west side flows into the Catawba, and all on the east side to Rocky River. In the early days
of the settlement the southern and northern boundaries extended respectively for a few miles north of Charlotte to Beattie's Ford, twelve miles northwest of Hopewell church. The lands were well watered, somewhat rolling, much of it prairie in fine grass and wild pea-vines, very fertile, and all capable of easy cultivation, except a small area covered with "nigger-head rock." It was once believed that only a wild and rugged climate and scant soil could
produce the highest type of manhood, but the heroes of the Revolution, and their descendants in the last great struggle between the States, prove that it is more in the race than in the locality. It would have been a surprise to us if those pioneers who braved the wilds of the unknown wilderness and the blood-thirsty savages, had not made themselves a name for posterity to be proud of when they
 

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M79.1.1 4-5   [Hopewell church was organized in 1765. Most who signed the declaration of Independence were Presbyterians. Most early church records of Hopewell were lost, but a manuscript of John McKnitt Alexander, written in 1807, is appended.]

settled in this locality, on the extreme limits of western civilization Mecklenburg having no western limit.

Hopewell church was organized in 1765, cotemporary with Rocky River and Sugar Creek. It was here that the spirit of civil and religious liberty first became manifest,
taking deep root in the hearts of the people, and culminated in the world-renowned Declaration of Independence in the town of Charlotte on the 20th of May, 1775.

Most of the signers of the Declaration, absolving their country from the crown of England, were members of the Presbyterian church, nine were ruling elders, and one a
minister of the gospel. They lived to a ripe old age, and transmitted to their posterity a full account of the transactions of the ever-memorable 20th of May as the most important act in the wonderful drama that gave birth to American liberty. So that if no other proof but tradition of such a character, it should be sufficie[n]t to establish its validity in the minds of all unprejudiced persons.

Hopewell church being a central point of this interesting locality, and having suffered the irreparable loss by fire of all the church records for seventy-five years of her existence, it is now impossible to replace them, and as anything pertaining to the church's early history will be of interest, I take pleasure in appending a manuscript written by John McKnitt Alexander, an elder of Hopewell. Mr. Alexander having held many positions of honor and trust, adds interest to all subjects with which his name is connected. Without apology or further explanation his paper is subjoined.

''The people of Hopewell having in the autumn of the year 1791 obtained part of the. ministerial labors of the Rev. Samuel C. Caldwell, the majority of them felt themselves happy in him as their teacher, and viewed themselves as being highly favored of their Creator in sending them such an earnest and zealous well-wisher of souls, to break the bread of life unto them. But there was a certain few, whom, though they appeared to be very willing to have

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M79.1.1 6-7   the doctrines of the Gospel explained to them, yet to have the necessity of inward, practical and experimental religion pressed upon them, and to be warned of the fatal consequences of a neglect thereof, in so warm and pathetic a manner as was customary for the Rev. S. C. Caldwell to do; this to them was very disagreeable; however, it was borne with some degree of quiet until May, 1802, when the late and glorious revival made its first public appearance in Hopewell. The loud cries of penitents, who were
convinced of their guilt and danger, pleading for mercy, roused ail their slumbering prejudices into wakeful activity. Little else but murmurs and reproaches could now be
heard from them. Those loud cries continuing occasionally to be heard, and frequently taking place under warm addresses, their worthy pastor bore equal, if not superior
blame, consequently their murmur against both the preacher and the penitents became incessant, accompanied with insidious and bitter opposition. Yet this ill treatment, the reverend and worthy Samuel C. Caldwell bore with much patience for several years; but at length, being grieved at heart with their continued and increasing murmurs, at the close of the year 1806. he withdrew from those sons of strife, left them to enjoy their silent Sabbaths, and betook himself to a more peaceful habitation. This gave rise
to the following lines:"

[A poem, part of John McKnitt's manuscript.]

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M79.1.1 8-9   [Continuation of poem] whi008_009_mod.jpg (213964 bytes)
M79.1.1 10-11   Chapter II.

[Numerous Alexanders settled in Mecklenburg county. John McKnitt Alexander was born in Pennsylvania and came to the county in 1754. He learned the tailor's trade and was a surveyor. He married Jane Bain in 1759. Many patriots met at his house and in 1755 they drafted the Mecklenburg declaration, though it was later destroyed when his house burned. He was an active patriot and helped organize Hopewell church, and passed away in 1817.]

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M79.1.1 12-13   [He had five children. William Bain Alexander married a daughter of Major John Davidson. They were prosperous, owning 6,000 acres of land. He was Recorder of Deeds, an active member of the Hopewell church, and Postmaster at Alexandriana. He and his wife had fourteen children. One passed away at age twenty-nine, another lived longer than ninety-three.]

[Joseph McKnitt Alexander was the oldest, born in 1792. He lived on a farm and made brick for Hopewell Church. He married Nancy Cathey and they had three children. They moved to Alabama in 1835.
The oldest daughter married Captain John Sharp and moved to Tennessee. They had several children who were well educated.
Robert Davidson Alexander, the third child, was a successful farmer, a Justice of the Peace, and a member of the County Court. He was an elder in Hopewell church, and a representative in Church Courts.]

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M79.1.1 14-15   [Describes other children, their families, and where they reside: Margaret Davidson Alexander, Sarah Davidson Alexander, William Bain Alexander, Rebecca, John Ramsey Alexander] whi014_015_mod.jpg (506243 bytes)
M79.1.1 16-17   [Describes Elizabeth, James McKnitt Alexander, Abigail, Isabella.] whi016_017_mod.jpg (535643 bytes)
M79.1.1 18-19   [Describes  .] whi018_019_mod.jpg (522375 bytes)
M79.1.1 20-21   [Describes Hamilton Lafayette, Sophia and Mrs. Julia Smith, Alice, Captain Sydenham B. Alexander, Abigail Bain.] whi020_021_mod.jpg (573190 bytes)
M79.1.1 22-23   [Describes Dr. D. T. Caldwell, who married Harriet Davidson; Jane Bain, daughter of John McKnitt Alexander, who married Reverend James Wallace; Margaret, daughter of John McKnitt Alexander, who married Colonel Alexander Ramsay.] whi022_023_mod.jpg (517624 bytes)
M79.1.1 24-25   Chapter III.

[Describes the Davidson family. Robert Davidson of Pennsylvania married Isabella Ramsay. Robert died and Isabelle and the two children moved to Rowan County in 1740.

Isabella later married General Joseph Graham, who testified to the truthfulness and validity of the Declaration. He was the first sheriff of Mecklenburg county He was shot in the war.]

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M79.1.1 26-27   [Describes Governor Graham and the family of Sally Davidson, who married Rev. Alexander Caldwell.] whi026_027_mod.jpg (532137 bytes)
M79.1.1 28-29   [David Alexander Caldwell bought and cultivated a farm north of Hopewell. Describes "scalp" hunts. He married the widow of his cousin; her name was Martha Bishop. Describes her good character. David A. Caldwell read, had a logical mind and a retentive memory; he was a devoted Presbyterian.] whi028_029_mod.jpg (594492 bytes)
M79.1.1 30-31   He had charity as broad as Christian faith, and had convictions so decided that when he had formed an opinion no amount of policy could swerve him from duty as he saw it.

[Shows his decision of character and devotion to principle with a reminiscence.]
[He talked about any subject. His health declined after his ninety-third year. Describes his other family members and Long Creek Mill Farm.]

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M79.1.1 32-33   [Describes public events at Long Creek, where Colonel "Jacky" and Mrs. Davidson lived for fifteen years. They moved to Alabama in 1835 where they became wealthy. Alexander Davidson was a find scholar, a successful farmer, and served terms in the United States Congress. Mrs. Patsy Caldwell Davidson had a strong mind.]

[Describes the family of Elizabeth Davidson. She married William L. Davidson. Mr. Davidson donated the lands for Davidson College, which was named in honor of his father. His father was killed February 1, 1781, while resisting Cornwallis as he crossed the Catawba River.]

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M79.1.1 34-35   [Mr. Davidson died towards the end of the Civil War. He and his wife had no offspring.]

[Daughters and sons of Major John Davidson are described.]

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M79.1.1 36-37   [Mrs. Davidson's nephew was James W. Osborne. He was a Superior Court judge, and was called Demosthenese of Western Carolina. Won almost all of his cases; his intellect is continued in his two sons.]

Chapter IV.

[Describes the family of John Davidson, or Jacky.]

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M79.1.1 38-39   [Describes Dr. William S.M. Davidson, Constantine Davidson, Isabella Davidson, Mary Davidson, Jacky Davidson, and Benjamin Wilson Davidson.] whi038_039_mod.jpg (505225 bytes)
M79.1.1 40-41   [Describes John Ramsay Davidson, who was born on August 2,1821. He had three children, and later moved to Alabama. James Latta Davidson married Miss Sarah Springs and settled south of Charlotte. When he died, she married Zenas Grier. William Lee Davidson graduated from Davidson College. He volunteered to fight in the war against Mexico, but soon returned home. He was promoted to colonel. After the war he married Annie Irvin Pagan. They had seven children.]

 

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M79.1.1 42-43   [Describes Dr. Joseph Malcom Davidson. He graduated at Davidson College and studied medicine. He married Mary Caldwell, who was pretty, intellectual, and had a wealthy father, Benjamin Howard Davidson, who was raised by his Uncle Robert Davidson. He became a businessman, but was killed n the battle of Sharpsburg in 1862.Isabelle Ramsay married Robert Davidson, but after his death she moved to Rowan County and married Henry Henry.]

 

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M79.1.1 44-45   Chapter V.

[Describes the families of John and Mary, Robert Davidson's two children.]

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M79.1.1 46-47   Chapter VI.
Barry Family.

Richard Barry was born in Pennsylvania, in 1726. His father came from the north of Ireland, where patriotism and Presbyterianism were synonymous terms. Richard married Ann Price, of Maryland, and moved to Mecklenburg County.

[Describes his achievements: signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, fighting in the battle of Cowan's Ford, an elder in Hopewell Church, a member of the County Court.]

[Richard Barry, Jr., married Margaret McDowell. Andrew Barry married Larissa Sample, and later Ruth Byers. Describes children, states that the Barrys and Monteiths were worthy descendants of a noble ancestry.]

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M79.1.1 48-49   [Jane Barry married W.A. Sample. They had a family of four sons and two daughters. John, McCamie, Hugh, and David were all members of Hopewell. Martha fell victim to consumption, and a younger sister married Samuel McElroy.]

[Describes Mr. W.A. Sample, William Sample, James Sample, Milas Sample, Leroy, Augustus E. Sample, John, Elam Sample, Mary Terissa Sample, and Caroline Sample.]

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M79.1.1 50-51   Chapter VII.
Baker's Graveyard.

[The first occupant was in 1753, twelve years before Hopewell church was built. Others buried there are Reverend John Thompson, John Baker, Hugh Lawson, and Mrs. Isabella Henry.]

Chapter VIII.
Andrew Moore's Family.

[Jane, called Jensie, was the only daughter of William and Elizabeth Sample. She married Andrew Moore. They lived east of Hopewell.]
Mr. Moore, while a member of the Presbyterian church, held Armenian doctrine, and made himself obnoxious by talking it; until he was refused a token that would admit him to the Lord's table. This act on the part of the session provoked him to carry his ideas still further, and he set about at once to organize a Methodist church [Bethesda].

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M79.1.1 52-53   [Mr. Moore, a class leader for many years, regarded as leader of Bethesda church. Died in 1843. Mr. and Mrs. Moore raised six children: Amzi, Fletcher Moore, Malissa Moore, Emalie Moore, Margaret Moore, and Eliza. Describes "tokens," passed along and collected by the elders.]

Chapter IX.

[James Latta came from Ireland in 1790, locating between Hopewell and the river. He married his second wife, Jane Knox, in 1795 and they had three daughters: Betsy, Polly, and Nancy.]

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M79.1.1 54-55   Mr. Latta was "cranky" on the subject of watching the boys when they came to see his girls.

Chapter X.

[John Montgomery was born in the Sugar Creek congregation, but moved into the boundary of Hopewell. He married Miss Clark. Their children were Clark, Harry, Hannah, Anna Woods, Dorcas, Rebecca, and Narcissa. Describes families and occupations of children.

[Mr. Montgomery died in 1854; his widow was a hypochondriac. She became alarmed with the idea that a striped tail lizard had found a lodgment in her lower intestine.]

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M79.1.1 56-57   [Eliza, a slave, decided to "cure" her. She made arrangements to relieve her mistress. She secured a lizard that looked like the one her mistress had described. The next day, Eliza dropped the lizard in the woman's room, and the woman was cured at once.]

Chapter XI.
McCoy Family.

[James McCoy came from Pennsylvania in the late eighteenth century. His son, John McCoy, married Ester Frazier in 1798. After his son was married James sold his farm and went to the west; he was never heard of again. John and his wife were members of Hopewell. They had a son and three daughters.]

Chapter XII.
McKnight Family.

[Thomas McKnight married Peggy Falls, daughter of Colonel Falls.]

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M79.1.1 58-59   [Thomas and Peggy had seven children.]

Chapter XIII.
Peoples Family.

[John Peoples was born in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, in 1765. He was of Irish parentage and moved to North Carolina. In 1788, he married Hannah Stinson. They lived near Long Creek mill and raised a large family: Richard, Silas, John, James, William and Elizabeth. Richard married Jane Harris in 1816, and Silas married Miss Hunter in 1834.]

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M79.1.1 60-61   Chapter XIV.
George Davis.

[George Davis was a musician, he was leader of the singing and was called clerk. Describes the pulpit and his stand. The singing was of a high order. Large congregations of negroes attended on Sacramental occasions; few could read, and it was necessary that they could take part in the worship. Mr. George Davis married a daughter of David Vance. They had four songs and one daughter. The family has drifted and few, unfortunately, remember him.

Chapter XV.
Elliot Family.

[Andrew Elliot's family attended Hopewell often. He had three sons and four daughters: George, Andrew, William, Catherine, Mary, Ann, and Betsy. None of his children married.]
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M79.1.1 62-63   Chapter XVI.
Blythe Family.

[Samuel Blythe was Scotch-Irish. He came from north Ireland in 1740 and resided north of Charlotte. His family history is not known. He married a Miss Patton; reared a family of children until they moved to the southwest. Only Samuel Blythe stayed to occupy the homestead. He married Isabella. He was born in 1790 and died in 1866. They had seven children: Franklin, Clement, John, James, Nancy, Rebecca, and Ellen. Describes children's families.]

Chapter XVII.
The Torrance Family.

[Hugh Torrance came from Ireland in the late eighteenth century. He built a home in Mecklenburg. He married Isabella and they raised a son named James. Hugh and Isabella both died in February, 1816, and were buried in Hopewell.
James inherited the home, which increased in value. He married Nancy Davidson and they had four children: Hugh, Frank, Cammilla, and Isabella. They all left Hopewell.]

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M79.1.1 64-65   [Nancy died in 1818. Mr. Torrance then married Mary Latta, and they had two children. Describes children's families and locations.]

Chapter XVIII.
Winslow Family.

[Only little is known. Moses Winslow was probably born in Iredell county. He married Jean, a daughter of Alexander Osborne. They had four daughters: Mary, Dovy, Rocinda, and another. Jean Osborne Winslow died in 1795. His daughters married into refined and educated families.]
 

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M79.1.1 66-67   Chapter XIX.
Samuel Wilson Family.

[Samuel Wilson, Sr., was married three times with three sets of children. He first married Mary Winslow. They had six children: David, Benjamin, Samuel, Mary, Violet, and Sally.  The second wife was the widow Howard.  They had a daughter, Margaret. His third wife was Margaret Jack.  They had three children: William, Robert, and Lillie. Describes the families and locations of these children.]

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M79.1.1 68-69   [Describes Lillie Wilson, who married James Connor.]

Chapter XX.
Cathy Family.

[During the Revolutionary War, John Cathy lived near Beattie's Ford. Tarlton's troopers carried off everything as they went towards Salisbury. He left his farm to his son, Col. Archibald Cathy. Archibald married a Miss Caldwell; they raised five sons and one daughter: Pink, William, Andrew, John, Henry, and Nancy. Colonel Cathy died, and his widow married Tom DeArmond. He was not considered the equal of the family. They had a son named Joe. When the older children married, the younger ones went to live with them.]

 

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M79.1.1 70-71   [Description of the children in the Cathy family.]

Chapter XXI.
Personal Difficulties.

To write only of battles and sieges, and of great leaders of men, and of great events that happen only once in a century, may be a pleasant past time to the writer and furnish enjoyable reading to those who are not particular as to the great facts that underlie our civilization, but it is unworthy of the purpose intended to be accomplished by writing history. History, to be true and express facts as they exist, must reach down among the great common people, who produce the wealth, pay the taxes, and fight the battles of their country, as ell as to eulogize the fortunate few who ride upon the flood tide that led them on to fortune. Notwithstanding the inhabitants of the Hopewell section were noted for their piety and morals, their love of freedom and fair play, they sometimes found it necessary to protect their honor and self-respect by personal combat. These personal encounters generally occurred on public occasions, such as elections, musters, or sales; sometimes at public places, as the court house, or the blacksmith shop. The blacksmith shop was a noted adjunct to the civilization of seventy-five years ago.  These shops were patronized by all classes. The rich and the educated would frequently spend a few hours chatting with their neighbors, hearing and telling the news. Newspapers were not so plentiful then as now, and the price was considerably more. So at these public resorts people would kill two birds with one stone, i.e., get their smithing done and hear the news.

[Description of Maxwell family; several were deaf mutes, but all were young and strong. Describes Joe Maxwell, who got into many fights, and an encounter with Joe Alexander.]

 

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M79.1.1 72-73   [As soon as they were parted, Maxwell threatened to give another beating. Monteith, the blacksmith, hoped to cool Maxwell's ardor by magisterial authority. When Joe saw him again, John drew his red-hot ax tongs from the furnace. Joe was badly blistered and his throat was bleeding.]

Chapter XXII.
Hopewell Graveyard.

[No one knows when the area started being used as a graveyard. There is no stone with a mark earlier than 1775, though. There are numerous Alexanders buried there.]

 

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M79.1.1 74-75   [Description of the Alexanders, Davidsons, and Williamsons. One of the most noted of those buried in the last quarter of the eighteenth century is Fancis Bradly, a patriot of the Revolution.]

What a peaceful and pleasant change it must be to be carried from fields of strife to the green pastures ever found by the River of Life in that world where the weary are at rest and Love reigns supreme. It is with a feeling of awe and reverence that we pass among those who have been nobly performed their duty while living, and have been called to take up their abode in this silent enclosure, and read their names and learn what is possible of their characters, feeling sure that we will soon be summoned to dwell in the silent tomb where history ceases, and we pass into the new life where, yesterday, today and tomorrow ever remain present.

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M79.1.1 76-77   [Names different families buried in the cemetery.]
Who were these people, and what part did they act in life's great drama? or were they visitors passing through the country and were drafted by the pale recruiting officer before they reached their destination? No one can now tell their story. But stranger still, some people appear to invite oblivion by not marking the spot or sepulchre, or chiseling their names upon stone.
[Describes those who did not put their names on stones, or whose history is lost.]
These names are now wholly unknown in the community, however important may have been the services rendered by those whose names are preserved on marble slabs. IT is more difficult to preserve ordinary or local fame than it is to win it. What a historical treasure we would have if only short sketches of the many heads of families that lie moldered into dust had been prepared when the material was fresh and abundant.
While we have reason to regret the loss of so much by the carelessness or want of forethought on the part of our ancestors, we have also greater reason to rejoice that so much of inestimable value has been kept safely for posterity's use. The history of every generation should be written, and not allow such wide gaps of time to intervene, which prove broken links in the historic chain connecting widely separated epochs of our civilization. Only in this way can history be preserved in its entirety. In this age of schools, while progress is the watchword, would it not be wise for the State to establish a department of history-for the writing of history- for the benefit of those who will live in the future, as well as to satisfy the reading people of today.

We are now living so fast, literally traveling by electricity, that we accomplish in ten years in this present era what it took one hundred years to accomplish a century ago. It is now a necessity to record new discoveries, new developments and rapid changes in a better way than in newspapers and periodicals if we would carry into the future a correct account of the maddening rush that is driving us forward. If the ashes of the wisest ones who have been asleep for fifty years could awake, see and hear what changes have been made since their departure, the would scarcely give credence to the true stories, although told by their own kith and kin. All discoveries and inventions have been by gradation, as it were, preparing the mind to receive and comprehend the wonderful phenomena  thrust with such apparent haste upon the astonished vision of an expectant world; somewhat after this similitude of Darwinian evolution. We now scarcely feel safe to doubt, much less deny any dream we hear, even the most unlooked-for.

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M79.1.1 78-79   Chapter XXIII.
Rev. John Williamson.

[Tells of the success and popularity of Reverend John Williamson; also describes his wife and family.]

Chapter XXIV.
Bethel Church.

[The area around Bethel was largely Presbyterian and Methodism had not taken root in Mecklenburg county before it was built. Describes the location of the church, and its small membership. There was no permanent reverend. Names the supporters of the church, and describes the high school nearby.

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M79.1.1 80-81   [The education at the school has declined because of the death of prominent persons, and others that have moved away.]

Chapter XXV.
Gilead Church.

[Describes thoughts that a temple erected to the worship of God a hundred years ago deserves more than a passing notice. It is a great historical loss that records were not kept, or that they have been lost. Many customs have changed. Description of Gilead and the Gilead graveyard; it is not as rich in history.]

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M79.1.1 82-83   [John Boyce was probably the first pastor; he was in charge of Coddle Creek, Prosperity Gilead, and Hopewell in South Carolina. He died in 1793. The second pastor was Reverend James McKnight. He was installed pastor of Gilead, Coddle Creek, and Prosperity in 1797. Describes the preaching styles of James McKnight. Description of the present site at Gilead and those in the movement to organize Gilead church. Names the first elders and the first pastors.] whi082_083_mod.jpg (509107 bytes)
M79.1.1 84-85   Chapter XXVI.
Manners, Habits and Customs.

[Describes stern family government and values, and the use of a switch for discipline. There was a plan for a high school to be built in the shadow of all Presbyterian churches, but it was not carried into effect. Describes how teachers would whip, and Presbyterian ministers who could not read Latin or Greek fluently would not have been granted a license to preach.]

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M79.1.1 86-87   [The Presbyterian church has an educated ministry, but preachers now are not as educated as they were 100 years ago. Dr. Joseph McKnitt Alexander was the first physician in the territory, though there were already surgeons. Description of how the practices changed once the Germ theory was thought of, but states that the same doctors were successful in fighting off the last enemy and restoring their patients' health as any other M.D. of the advanced age of medical science. Describes Dr. Isaac Wilson and his practice. Though he was a self educated physician, he had the conference of everyone. Describes his pack of fox hounds, that no one today can appreciate the excitement of the sport. The days of African slavery (when the negroes were happy creatures) are also reminisced; their best and happiest days passed away when their freedom was thrust upon them.] whi086_087_mod.jpg (515668 bytes)
M79.1.1 88-89   Chapter XXVII.
[Letter to J.B. Alexander; October 6, 1896.]
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M79.1.1 90-91   [Continuation of letter, describing relatives and well organized churches.] whi090_091_mod.jpg (498915 bytes)
M79.1.1 92-93   [R. C. Kerr, the writer of the letter, explained that he had bronchitis for six weeks.]

Chapter XXVIII.
A Mark of Peculiar Interest.

[Discusses the grave stone of Capt. James Knox, the grandfather of President James Knox Polk. Polk was probably born in the southern part of Mecklenburg county, near Pineville. Describes Peggy Alcorn, an girl who came from Ireland as a 13 year old. She was hired by Sam Polk to wait on his wife and nurse the baby.]

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M79.1.1 94-95   Chapter XXIX.
Assassination of Ben Wilson.

Probably there has never been a more tragic foundation for thrilling romance than the one laid by the episode mentioned, This tragedy occurred in the early part of the present century, and there is now no person living who was personally cognizant of the facts. Tradition has had much to say with the regard to the matter, and it is still talked of by the people in the section of country where it occurred. Allen Curry, a brother, and Mrs. Johnston, a sister of Nixon Curry, lived to old age in this neighborhood, and were people of respectability, and their descendants are numerous in the county. They are esteemed good, law-abiding citizens. T he Curry family lived sixteen miles north of Charlotte, and about half a mile west of what is now Caldwell's station, on the Atlantic, Tennessee and Ohio Railroad. The property was bought by Mr. Andrew Springs, many years ago, and every trace of the family residence is gone, but the Springs branch is still known as "Curry branch."

[Ben Wilson was born of an illustrious ancestry, being closely connected by a collateral branch of English nobility, One hundred years ago this was the most aristocratic family in the county. Ben Wilson was a son of David Wilson, and was born and raised northwest of Hopewell church. Would have been called "sports" since they were fond of horse-racing and card-playing. About 1820, Nixon Curry, Latta McConnel and Ben Wilson were close, and sometimes gone six weeks at a time. No one knew why.]

After awhile certain farmers noticed that the disappearance of one or more negro slaves was coincident with the mysterious visits of the trio, to unknown parts, whence the negroes never returned.

[Everyone believed Wilson and Curry stole the slaves, though no positive proof.]

It was believed they would "toll" the negro off with the promise that when sold, they would divide profits with the negro; have him run away from his new master and rejoin the traders, and sell him again.

[Curry heard that Ben Wilson would turn evidence against Curry; he would be free while Curry would be hanged.]
 

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M79.1.1 96-97   [On an afternoon in 1821, Ben Wilson coming home, called John Knox's residence near where the Curry family lived; told him to keep watch or he may lose his fast horse.]
Wilson passed on in a southwest course about half a mile, when the sound of a rifle was heard, and soon after Wilson's body found dead, from a rifle shot.
[Everyone believed Nixon Curry was guilty, Curry was in hiding a few days but remained in the neighborhood when he could have escaped. Some say he did not leave because of his wife.]

[Baldy Henderson defended Curry. The trial was moved to Morganton and he was acquitted for want of evidence. However, he was arrested again for stealing negroes. He remained in Statesville jail for a short time until he was able to escape, and he left North Carolina. The crime of stealing a slave was a felony punishable with death. The governor offered a $5,000 award for his apprehension.]

We now come to a part of his history, after leaving the territory of which we write, where truth is stranger than fiction. It is said Curry was a child of impulse from infancy, not quarrelsome, but quick to resent an insult; that he was in love with a class-mate- Lucy Gordon, when they were but children. Their dream flowed smoothly, until Lucy was eighteen, when her parents desired her to marry another, but true to her life-long lover, she refused to obey her parents, and ran away with Nixon Curry. When being pursued, he killed his rival and escaped. It is said that during his entire life of strife and crime, he never spoke an unkind word to his wife. After tarrying a short time in the mountains about the headwaters of the Catawba, he started for a country more congenial to his mode of life. The Territory of Arkansas was just beginning to be settled, and to this point of the fertile delta bordering on the St. Francis, now in the State of Arkansas, an emigrant made his appearance, calling himself John Hill. He rapidly became the most popular man in the settlement. Although of moderate means, he was sober, industrious, generous and of extended hospitality, and such continued to be his character in the country which he had adopted for a period extending over a dozen years.

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M79.1.1 98-99  
[Hill was elected multiple times to the Territorial Legislature and was a distinguished leader in the party. Hill's neighbors were the Strongs, four brothers with wealth and ambition. George Strong made a request to Hill to resign his seat in the Senate in his favor. Hill refused and the brothers wanted revenge. They wanted to capture Nixon Curry, the notorious robber.]

[During the attack, two brothers were shot dead and six others were badly wounded. People refused to believe that John Hill was identical with Nixon Curry. A requisition was sent demanding the surrender of Curry. An additional award was published for the arrest of John Hill. Hill went to Upper Arkansas where he knew a band of desperadoes.]

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M79.1.1 100-101   [Hill pursued his way without being caught. However, the constant pursuit and chasing of him made him sour and morose. He became a gambler and started drinking. He became famous among the mountains and piedmont of North Carolina and there was never a man who inspired more terror.]

[In September, 1845, Hill had a dream that he would die a horrible death before sundown. His wife told him not to go to court, but Hill said he should not avoid death but meet it bravely. Description of Moses Howard. As Howard and Hill reached town, Hill began drinking.]

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M79.1.1 102-103   [Hill threatened that he would clear the court house. Everyone rushed for the door but those who stayed behind were beaten. He killed his friend, his sweetheart's father. He soon realized what he did and tried to kill himself. The by-standers in the room prevented him from doing so. Moses Howard disappeared and was later seen in Texas. Mary Hill spent the rest of her life in an asylum.]

It will be remembered that Hill enjoined upon his son to avenge his death. Faithfully did that son obey the command. When he had reached his sixteenth year, he left for Texas. He was gone for several months. When he returned he said to his mother, in reply to he inquiring look: It's done, mother! Poor Howard, I pitied him, but I had to do it!"
"Poor Mose," said the mother, weeping, "but it could not be helped. The son of such a brave man as Nixon Curry must never be called a coward, and besides, it was your father's order."

(For the facts on which the history of this most remarkable man has been written, I am under obligations to Mrs. Johnston, a sister of Nixon Curry, and to her son,

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M79.1.1 104   Isaac Johnston, a venerable citizen of Davidson College also for the use of Arkansas newspapers printed at the time of the wildest excitement connected with the killing of Curry. As for the killing of Ben Wilson, every person in the upper part of Mecklenburg was familiar with all the details forty years ago.) whi104_mod.jpg (129180 bytes)