Sketches of Western North Carolina, Historical and Biographical
C. L. Hunter
Part 2 out of 6
regiment commanded by Colonel Adam Alexander. He was also a member of
the Provincial Congress which met at Halifax in November, 1776, which
formed our first Constitution, associated with Hezekiah Alexander,
Waightstill Avery, Robert Irwin and Zaccheus Wilson, as colleagues. He
married Catharine Barringer, which latter name was originally spelled
It was on the plantation of John Phifer, three mile west of Concord,
that the gallant band of "Black Boys," headed by Captain 'Black Bill
Alexander' of Sugar Creek, aided by the Whites and others from the
neighboring congregation of Rocky River, effected their memorable
achievement in 1771, of destroying the king's powder, which was on its
way from Charleston to Hillsboro to be used by a tyrannical Governor.
The reader should bear in mind this _blackening of faces_, to prevent
detection, was in the spring of 1771, when the patriotic sentiment of
this country had not ripened into that state of almost entire
unanimity which characterized it, and the State generally, four years
later. John Phifer filled an early grave, and lies buried at the "Red
Hill," on the Salisbury road, where a decaying headstone, scarcely
legible, marks the last resting-place of this true patriot.
Thomas Polk is a name of historic distinction in North Carolina, as
well as in our nation. He was the early, constant, and enduring friend
of liberty, and the unfaltering opponent of arbitrary power and
oppression. He was a member of the Colonial Assembly in 1771 and 1775,
associated with Abraham Alexander from Mecklenburg. In 1775, he was
appointed Colonel of the second battalion of "Minute Men," with Adam
Alexander as Colonel, and Charles McLean as Major.
As Colonel of the Mecklenburg militia, he issued orders to the
Captains of the several _beats_, or districts, to send two delegates
each to the Convention in Charlotte on the 19th of May, 1775. This act
alone, proceeding from patriotic motives, entitles him to our
gratitude. In accordance with orders, and the anticipated discussion
of political measures affecting the welfare of the country, a vast
concourse of delegates, and of the citizens generally, from all parts
of the country, as well as from the adjoining counties of Anson, Rowan
and Tryon (afterward Lincoln) assembled on the appointed day--such a
gathering as had never before met in Charlotte, preceding, or during
the Revolution. It was not a small assemblage, like that of the 31st
of the same month, composed entirely of the Committee of Safety, met
for the purpose of passing such rules and regulations as the internal
government of the county demanded.
At the Provincial Congress which met at Halifax on the 4th of April,
1776, he was appointed Colonel of the fourth regiment of Continental
troops, with James Thackson as Lieutenant-Colonel, and William
Davidson as Major. The last named officer was afterward appointed a
Brigadier General, and was killed while disputing the passage of
Cornwallis at Cowan's Ford, on the 1st of February, 1781. After the
death of General Davidson, he was appointed Brigadier General in his
stead. When General Greene took command of the Southern army in
Charlotte on the 3rd of December, 1780, the commissary department was
left vacant by the resignation of Colonel Polk. At the earnest
solicitation of General Greene, Colonel Davie was induced to accept
the position, an ungracious and troublesome office at any time, but
then attended with peculiar difficulties, as the country had been
lately devastated and stripped of its usual resources by a large
Colonel Thomas Polk married Susan Spratt, and left several children.
He died in 1793, full of years and full of honors, and his mortal
remains repose in the graveyard of the Presbyterian Church in
William Polk, son of Colonel Thomas Polk, was born in 1759, and was
present at the Mecklenburg Convention of the 19th and 20th of May,
1775. He commenced his military career with his father in the
expedition against the Scovillite Tories, in upper South Carolina, in
the autumn of 1775. He was with General Nash when he fell at
Germantown; with General Davidson, at Cowan's Ford; with General
Greene, at Guilford Court House; and with the same officer at Eutaw
Springs. In the last named battle he was severely wounded, the effects
of which he carried with him to his grave. When the war closed, he
held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He settled in Charlotte, his
place of nativity, and represented Mecklenburg county in the Commons
in 1787-'90, and '91. Soon thereafter he removed to Raleigh, where he
spent the remainder of his life. He was the last surviving field
officer of the North Carolina line. He died on the 14th of January,
1835, in the seventy-sixth year of his age. He was the father of
Bishop Leonidas Polk, a brave and meritorious officer, killed in the
late civil war, while holding the position of Major General; of the
late Thomas G. Polk, of Tennessee, and of Mrs. Rayner, wife of the
Hon. Kenneth Rayner, of Washington City.
Ezekiel Polk, one of the older brothers of Colonel Thomas Polk, was
the first clerk of the county court of Lincoln, after its separation
from Mecklenburg in 1768; a Magistrate of Mecklenburg county at a
later period; and was a man of considerable wealth and influence,
owning much of the valuable lands around "Morrow's Turnout," now the
flourishing village of "Pineville." He was the grandfather of James K.
Polk, President of the United States in 1845, some of whose noblest
traits of character were illustrated in _refusing to serve a second
term_ and in being _never absent from his post of duty_. Well would it
be for the best interests of our Republic if other occupants of the
"White House" would imitate his noble example.
_Zaccheus Wilson_, was one of three brothers who moved from
Pennsylvania and settled in Mecklenburg county about 1760. At the time
of the Mecklenburg Convention on the 19th and 20th of May, 1775, he
signed that instrument, pledging himself and his extensive family
connections to its support and maintenance. He was said to be a man of
liberal education, and very popular in the county in which he resided.
He was a member of the Convention which met at Halifax on the 12th of
November, 1776, to form a State Constitution, associated with
Waightstill Avery, John Phifer, Robert Irwin and Hezekiah Alexander.
The Wilsons were Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, and were arrayed by early
education, civil and religious, against tyranny in any form. The
eldest brother, Robert Wilson, who lived for many years in Steele
Creek congregation, was the father of eleven sons, seven of whom were
at one time (all who were old enough) in the Revolutionary army.
Shortly after the Revolution, Zaccheus Wilson moved to Sumner county,
Tennessee, and there died at an advanced age.
_Ezra Alexander_ was a son of Abraham Alexander, the President of the
Mecklenburg Convention of the 20th of May, 1775. He and William
Alexander each commanded a company in Colonel William Davidson's
battalion, under General Rutherford, against the Tories assembled at
Ramsour's Mill, near the present town of Lincolnton. He was also
engaged in other military expeditions during the war, whenever the
defence of the country demanded his services.
_Charles Alexander_ and _John Foard_, two of the signers, served as
privates in Captain Charles Polk's company of "Light Horse" in 1776,
in the Wilmington campaign, and in other service during the war. John
Foard was, for many years, one of the magistrates of Mecklenburg
county, and both have descendants living among us.
_David Reese_ was a son of William Reese, a worthy citizen of Western
Rowan (now Iredell county), who died in April, 1808, aged _ninety-nine
years_, and brother of the Rev. Thomas Reese, whose ministerial labors
were chiefly performed in Pendleton District, S.C., where he ended his
days, and is buried in the Stone Church graveyard.
_James Harris_ was from Eastern Mecklenburg (now Cabarrus county), a
neighborhood universally holding Whig principles. He was the Major in
Colonel Robert Irwin's regiment at the battle of the Hanging Rock, and
elsewhere performed important services during the war. Next to the
Alexanders the name Harris was most prevalent in Mecklenburg county
preceding the Revolution, and both still have numerous worthy
descendants among us to perpetuate the fair name and fame of their
_Matthew McLure_, one of the signers, was an early and devoted friend
of liberty. Some of his worthy descendants are still living among us.
Other descendants of the same patriotic family reside in Chester
county, S.C. One of his daughters married George Houston, who, with a
Spartan band of twelve or thirteen brave spirits, under Captain James
Thompson, beat back a British foraging party of over four hundred
soldiers, at McIntyre's Branch, on the Beattie's Ford road, seven
miles north-west of Charlotte. His son, Hugh Houston, served
throughout the Revolutionary war. The rifle used on that occasion by
George Houston is still in possession of the family. His son, M.M.
Houston, Esq., of Hopewell congregation, is one of the few grandsons
now living of the original signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration.
_William Graham_, an Irishman by birth, was one of the early advocates
of liberty in Mecklenburg county. He was intelligent and highly
respected by all who knew him. He lived on the plantation now owned by
Mrs. Potts, about four miles south-east of Beattie's Ford, on the
public road leading to Charlotte, where he died at a good old age.
It is hoped others will prosecute this branch of historical research,
here imperfectly sketched, supply omissions, and favor the public with
the result of their investigations. In this Centennial year it is
pleasant and profitable to revert to the deeds of noble daring and
lofty patriotism of our forefathers, and strive to emulate their
ORIGIN OF THE ALEXANDER FAMILIES OF MECKLENBURG COUNTY.
The name, Alexander, is of frequent mention among the nobility of
Scotland. About the year 1735 John Alexander married Margaret Gleason,
a "bonnie lassie" of Glasgow, and shortly afterward emigrated to the
town of Armagh, in Ireland. About 1740, wishing to improve more
rapidly his worldly condition, he emigrated with his rising family,
two nephews, James and Hugh Alexander, and their sister, who was
married to a Mr Polk, to America, and settled in Nottingham, Chester
county, Pa. These two nephews, and their brother-in-law, Polk, soon
afterward emigrated to Mecklenburg county, North Carolina, then
holding forth flattering inducements for settlement. These families,
of Scotch-Irish descent, there prospered in their several callings,
and early imbibed those principles of civil and religious liberty
which stamped their impress on themselves and their descendants, and
shone forth conspicuously preceding and during the American
About the time of this emigration of the Alexanders to North Carolina,
John Alexander moved to Carlisle, Cumberland county, Pa. While he
resided there his son James (James the first) married "Rosa Reed," of
that place. Soon after his marriage he left Carlisle, and settled on
"Spring Run," having purchased a tract of land which covered "Logan's
Springs," where the celebrated Mingo chief, Logan, then lived. After
Logan's death he moved to the Springs, which valuable property is
still owned by the Alexander heirs.
John Alexander, partaking of the roving spirit of the age, left
Carlisle, and finally settled in Berkeley county, Va., where he
purchased a large farm, and spent the remainder of his days. His son
James had twelve children, seven sons and five daughters. One of his
daughters, Rachel, married Joseph Vance, of Virginia, the ancestor of
ex-Governor Vance, of Ohio, and other descendants. He gave Vance a
farm of three hundred acres as an inducement to settle near him. Vance
accepted the gift, and soon afterward removed to the farm; but Indian
troubles breaking out at that time, he sold his possession and
returned to Virginia, selecting a location near Martinsburg.
James Alexander (James the second) had four sons and six daughters.
The eldest son (James the third) married his cousin Celia, youngest
daughter of Robert Alexander, of whom was a descendant, Robert
Alexander (perhaps a son), a captain in the Revolution, who married
Mary Jack, third daughter of Patrick Jack, of Charlotte, and settled
in Lincoln county, where he died in 1813.
James Porterfield Alexander (James the fourth), and son of James the
third, married Annie Augusta Halsey, grand-daughter of the Hon.
Jeremiah Morton, and resides, in this centennial year, on the St.
Cloud plantation, Rapidan Station, Culpeper county, Va.
Hugh Alexander, son of James the first, married Martha Edmundson,
settled in Sherman's Valley, Pa., and had a large family. He died at
Independence Hall, Philadelphia, while sitting as a member to form a
Another prolific source of the Alexanders in America is traceable to
the descendants of seven brothers, who fled from Scotland, on account
of political troubles, to the north of Ireland, and passing through
the Emerald Isle, sailed for America, and landed in New York in 1716.
One of their descendants was William Alexander, born in New York in
1720, a son of James Alexander, of Scotland. He became a distinguished
officer in the Revolutionary war, known as "Lord Stirling." He married
a daughter of Philip Livingston (the second lord of the manor), a
sister of Governor Livingston, of New Jersey.
From these prolific sources (Scotch and Scotch-Irish) North Carolina,
and other States of the American Union, have received their original
supplies of Alexanders, embracing, in their expansion, many
In the list of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of the 20th
of May, 1775, six bear the name of Alexander, and a _host_ of others,
officers and privates, honored the name in their heroic achievements
during the Revolutionary war. Two of the distinguished teachers in
Rowan county, preceding the Revolution, were James Alexander and
It is also worthy of mention that one of the _twenty-six_ persons who
met in Charleston, in the fall of 1766, after the repeal of the Stamp
Act, under the leadership of that early patriot, General Christopher
Gadsden, rejoiced under the duplicated name of _Alexander Alexander_.
He had strayed off from the paternal roof in North Carolina, and was
employed there in the honorable calling of schoolmaster. Johnson, in
his "Traditions and Reminiscences," thus speaks favorably of his
"Alexander Alexander was a school-master of high character
and popularity. He was a native of Mecklenburg, North
Carolina, and educated in the Whig principles of that
At the commencement of the Revolutionary War, one of the worthy and
patriotic citizens of the little town of Charlotte, in Mecklenburg
county, N.C., was Patrick Jack. He was a native of Ireland, and
emigrated to America, with several brothers, about 1730. He married
Lillis McAdoo, of the same race, who is represented to have been, by
all who knew her, as "one of the best of women," having an amiable
disposition, frequently dispensing charities to the poor, and truly
pious. Her Christian name, _Lillis_, in subsequent years, was softened
into _Lillie_, by many of her descendants in adopting it. The descent
of Patrick Jack is traceable to noble ancestors, one of whom was a
ministerial sufferer in the reign of Charles II, in 1661. In that
year, that despotic monarch, who, according to one of his own
satirists, "Never said a foolish thing, nor ever did a wise one,"
ejected from their benefices or livings, under Jeremy Taylor, thirteen
ministers of the Presbytery of Lagan, in the northern part of Ireland,
for their non-conformity to the Church of England. The Puritans of
England were called to the same trial, in August, 1662, and in the
following October, the same scene of heroic suffering was exhibited in
Among the honored names of these thirteen ejected ministers, were
Robert Wilson, ancestor of the Rev. Francis McKemie, who, twenty years
later, was the first Presbyterian preacher that had ever visited the
Western Continent, and near relative of George McKemie, of the Waxhaw
settlement, and a brother-in-law of Mrs. Elizabeth Jackson, the mother
of General Andrew Jackson; Robert Craighead, ancestor of the Rev.
Alexander Craighead, the first settled pastor of Sugar Creek
congregation, the early apostle of civil and religious liberty in
Mecklenburg county, and who ended his days there in 1766; Thomas
Drummond, a near relative of William Drummond, the first royal
Governor of North Carolina; Adam White, ancestor of Hon. Hugh Lawson
White, a native of Iredell county, and William Jack, ancestor of
Patrick Jack, of Charlotte, Charles Jack, of Chambersburg,
Pennsylvania, and others whose descendants are now found in ten or
twelve States of the American Union.
In the list of tax-payers for Chambersburg, Pa, during the latter half
of the last century, the "Chief Burgess," or Mayor of that place,
informs the author the name of Jack (especially John, James, Charles,
and William) is of frequent occurrence; but, at the present time, not
one of the name is to be found there. One of these, (James) probably a
nephew of Patrick and Charles Jack, served five years with distinction
in the Revolutionary army, and others are traditionally spoken of as
actively engaged in the same patriotic duty. Several of the elder
members of the family are buried in the graveyard of Chambersburg,
others in Williamsport, Md., and elsewhere in western Pennsylvania.
Several years previous to the Revolution, there also came over from
the north of Ireland to America, at least two brothers of the name of
Jack, distant relatives of Patrick and Charles Jack, and settled in
western Pennsylvania. When the county town of Westmoreland
(Hannastown) was burned by the Indians in 1783, one of this family
distinguished himself by saving the lives of the women and children.
After the burning of that place, the name of the town was changed to
Greensburg, and a new location selected on land donated by William
Jack, who had become quite wealthy, and one of the Associate Judges of
Westmoreland county. He had five sons, four of whom died bachelors;
the elder married, but none of his descendants are now (1876) living,
except a grand-son, (William Jack,) who resides near Greensburg, Pa.
The only daughter of Judge William Jack, married _John Cust_, who fled
from Ireland soon after the rebellion in 1798.
About 1760, animated with the hope of more rapidly improving his
worldly condition, Patrick Jack joined the great tide of emigration to
the Southern colonies, and shortly after his arrival in North Carolina
purchased a tract of land between Grant and Second Creeks, in the
Cathey settlement (now Thyatira) in Rowan county. After remaining
there for about two years, he sold his land and moved to the adjoining
county of Mecklenburg. Here, by strict economy and industry, he was
"blest in his basket and his store," and enabled to make more enlarged
possessions. This improvement in his pecuniary condition and
prosperity may be inferred from the fact that in 1775, and a few years
subsequently, he and his eldest son, Capt. James Jack, who, about this
time united in business with his father, became the owners of some of
the finest lots, or rather blocks, in Charlotte. Among the valuable
lots they are recorded as owning, may be briefly named: No. 25, the
present Irwin corner; No. 26, the Parks lot; No. 27, the whole space,
or double block, from the Irwin corner to the Court House lot; No. 29,
the space from the Parks lot to the corner embracing the Brown
property; and several lots on Trade street, opposite the First
Presbyterian Church. On one of these last named lots (the old Elms
property, on the corner next to the Court House) Patrick Jack and his
son Capt. James Jack, resided when the delegates from the militia
districts of the county assembled, on the 19th and 20th of May, 1775,
and kept a public house of entertainment. Here Patrick Jack, on
suitable occasions, was accustomed to "crack" many an Irish joke, to
the infinite delight of his numerous visitors; and by his ready wit,
genial good humor and pleasantry, greatly contributed to the
reputation of his house, and inculcated his own patriotic principles.
The house soon became the favorite place of resort for the students of
the collegiate institute known as "Queen's Museum," and of other
ardent spirits of the town and country, to discuss the political
issues of that exciting period, all foreboding the approach of a
Patrick Jack had four sons, James, John, Samuel and Robert, and five
daughters, Charity, Jane, Mary, Margaret and Lillis, named in the
order of their ages. Capt. James Jack, the eldest son, married
Margaret Houston, on the 20th of November, 1766. The Houston family
came South nearly at the same time with the Alexanders, Polks,
Pattons, Caldwells, Wallaces, Wilsons, Clarkes, Rosses, Pattersons,
Browns, and many others, and settled mostly in the eastern part of
Mecklenburg county (now Cabarrus), and in neighborhoods convenient to
the old established Presbyterian churches of the country, under whose
guidance civil and religious freedom have ever found ardent and
unwavering defenders. The late Archibald Houston, who served Cabarrus
county faithfully in several important positions, and died in 1843,
was one of this worthy family.
On the 2nd of October, 1768, Captain James Jack, as stated in his own
family register, moved to his own place, on the head of the Catawba
river, then receiving a considerable emigration. He had five children:
1. Cynthia, born on the 20th of September, 1767. 2. Patrick, born on
the 27th of September, 1769. 3. William Houston, bom on the 6th of
June, 1771. 4. Archibald, born on the 20th of April, 1773 (died
young); and 5. James, born on the 20th of September, 1775.
On the 4th of August, 1772, Captain Jack left his mountain home and
moved to the residence of his father, Patrick Jack, in Mecklenburg
county. On the 16th of February, 1773, he and his father moved from
the country, where they had been temporarily sojourning, into
"Charlotte town," prospered in business, and soon became useful and
On the 26th of Sept., 1780, Lord Cornwallis, elated with his victory
at Camden, entered Charlotte, with the confident expectation of soon
restoring North Carolina to the British Crown. Patrick Jack was then
an old and infirm man, having given up the chief control of his public
house to his son, Captain James Jack; but neither age nor infirmity
could enlist the sympathies of the British soldiery. The patriotic
character of the house had become extensively known through Tory
information, and its destruction was consequently a "foregone
conclusion." The British soldiers removed its aged owner from the
feather bed upon which he was lying, emptied its contents into the
street, aid then set the house on fire! The reason assigned for this
incendiary act was, "all of old Jack's sons were in the rebel army,"
and he himself had been an active promoter of American independence.
The loss to Patrick Jack of his dwelling-house and much furniture,
accumulated through many years of patient toil and industry, was a
severe one. The excitement of the burning scene, consequent exposure,
and great nervous shock to a system already debilitated with disease,
a few months afterward brought to the grave this veteran patriot. His
aged partner survived him a few years. Both were worthy and consistent
members of the Presbyterian Church, and their mortal remains now
repose in the old graveyard in Charlotte.
By the last will and testament of Patrick Jack, made on the 19th of
May, 1780, he devised the whole of his personal estate and the
"undivided benefit of his house and lots to his beloved wife during
her life-time." After her death they were directed to be sold, and the
proceeds divided among his five married daughters, viz.: Charity
Dysart, Jane Barnett, Mary Alexander, Margaret Wilson and Lillie
Nicholson. James Jack and Joseph Nicholson were appointed executors.
It is related of Dr. Thomas Henderson, a former venerable citizen of
Charlotte, that, on his death-bed, he requested to be buried by the
side of Patrick Jack, "one of the best men he had ever known."
At the Convention of Delegates in Charlotte on the 19th and 20th of
May, 1775, Capt. James Jack was one of the deeply interested
spectators, and shared in the patriotic feelings of that ever
memorable occasion. He was then about forty-three years of age--brave,
energetic and ready to engage in any duty having for its object the
welfare and independence of his country. After the passage of the
patriotic resolutions, elsewhere given in this volume, constituting
the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, Capt. Jack, for his
well-known energy, bravery and determination of character, was
selected to be the bearer of them to Congress, then in session in
Philadelphia. Accordingly, as soon as the necessary preparations for
traveling could be made, he set out from Charlotte on that long,
lonesome and perilous journey, _on horseback_. There were then nowhere
in the American colonies, _stages_ or _hacks_ to facilitate and
expedite the weary traveler. Express messengers were alone employed
for the rapid transmission of all important intelligence. On the
evening of the first day he reached Salisbury, forty miles from
Charlotte, before the General Court, then in session, had adjourned.
Upon his arrival, Colonel Kennon, an influential member of the Court,
who knew the object of Captain Jack's mission, procured from him the
copy of the Mecklenburg resolutions of independence he had in charge,
and read them aloud in open court. All was silence, and all apparent
approval (_intentique ora tenebant_) as these earliest key-notes of
freedom resounded through the hall of the old court house in
Salisbury. There sat around, in sympathizing composure, those sterling
patriots, Moses Winslow, Waightstill Avery, John Brevard, William
Sharpe, Griffith Rutherford, Matthew Locke, Samuel Young, Adlai
Osborne, James Brandon, and many others, either members of the court,
or of the county "Committee of Safety." The only marked opposition
proceeded from two lawyers, _John Dunn_ and _Benjamin Booth Boote_,
who pronounced the resolutions _treasonable_, and said Captain Jack
ought to be detained. These individuals had previously expressed
sentiments "inimical to the American cause." As soon as knowledge of
their avowed sentiments and proposed detention of Captain Jack reached
Charlotte, the patriotic vigilance of the friends of liberty was
actively aroused, and a party of ten or twelve armed horsemen promptly
volunteered to proceed to Salisbury, arrest said Dunn and Boote, and
bring them before the Committee of Safety of Mecklenburg for trial.
This was accordingly done (George Graham, living near Charlotte, being
one of the number), and both being found guilty of conduct inimical to
the cause of American freedom, were transported, first to Camden, and
afterward, to Charleston, S.C. They never returned to North Carolina,
but after the war, it is reported, settled in Florida, and died there,
it is hoped not only repentant of their sins, as all should be, but
with chastened notions of the reality and benefits of American
On the next morning, Captain Jack resumed his journey from Salisbury,
occasionally passing through neighborhoods, in and beyond the limits
of North Carolina, infested with enraged Tories, but, intent on his
appointed mission, he faced all dangers, and finally reached
Philadelphia in safety.
Upon his arrival he immediately obtained an interview with the North
Carolina delegates (Caswell, Hooper and Hewes), and, after a little
conversation on the state of the country, then agitating all minds,
Captain Jack drew from his pocket the Mecklenburg resolutions of the
20th of May, 1775, with the remark:
"Here, gentlemen, is a paper that I have been instructed to deliver
to you, with the request that you should lay the same before Congress."
After the North Carolina delegates had carefully read the Mecklenburg
resolutions, and approved of their patriotic sentiments so forcibly
expressed, they informed Captain Jack they would keep the paper, and
show it to several of their friends, remarking, at the same time, they
did not think Congress was then prepared to act upon so important a
measure as _absolute independence_.
On the next day, Captain Jack had another interview with the North
Carolina delegates. They informed him that they had consulted with
several members of Congress, (including Hancock, Jay and Jefferson,)
and that all agreed, while they approved of the patriotic spirit of
the Mecklenburg resolutions, it would be premature to lay them
officially before the House, as they still entertained some hopes of
reconciliation with England. It was clearly perceived by the North
Carolina delegates and other members whom they consulted, that the
citizens of Mecklenburg county were _in advance_ of the general
sentiment of Congress on the subject of independence; the phantasy of
"reconciliation" still held forth its seductive allurements in 1775,
and even during a portion of 1776; and hence, no record was made, or
vote taken on the patriotic resolutions of Mecklenburg, and they
became concealed from view in the blaze of the National Declaration
bursting forth on the 4th of July, 1776, which only re-echoed and
reaffirmed the truth and potency of sentiments proclaimed in Charlotte
on the 20th of May, 1775.
Captain Jack finding the darling object of his long and toilsome
journey could not be then accomplished, and that Congress was not
prepared to vote on so bold a measure as _absolute independence_, just
before leaving Philadelphia for home, somewhat excited, addressed the
North Carolina delegates, and several other members of Congress, in
the following patriotic words:
"_Gentlemen, you may debate here about 'reconciliation,' and
memorialize your king, but, bear it in mind, Mecklenburg
owes no allegiance to, and is separated from the crown of
Great Britain forever_."
On the breaking out of hostilities with the mother country, no portion
of the Confederacy was more forward in fulfilling the pledge of "life,
fortune and sacred honor," in the achievement of liberty, previously
made, than Mecklenburg and several adjacent counties. Upon the first
call for troops, Captain Jack entered the service in command of a
company, and acted in that capacity, with distinguished bravery,
throughout the war under Colonels Polk, Alexander, and other officers.
He uniformly declined promotion when tendered, there being a strong
reciprocal attachment between himself and his command, which he highly
appreciated, and did not wish to sunder. At the commencement of the
war he was in "easy" and rather affluent circumstances--at its close,
comparatively a poor man. Prompted by patriotic feelings for the final
prosperity of his county, still struggling for independence, he loaned
to the Slate of North Carolina, in her great pecuniary need, L4,000,
for which, unfortunately, he has never received a cent in return. As a
partial compensation for his services the State paid him a land
warrant, which he placed in the hands of a Mr. Martin, a particular
friend, to be laid at his discretion. Martin moved to Tennessee, and
died there, but no account of the warrant could be afterward obtained.
Soon after the war he sold his house and lots in Charlotte, and moved
with his family to Wilkes county, Ga. Here he is represented, by those
who knew him, as being a "model farmer," with barns well filled, and
surrounded with all the evidences of great industry, order and
abundance. Here, too, he was blest in enjoying for many years the
ministerial instructions of the Rev. Francis Cummins, a distinguished
Presbyterian clergyman, who, at the youthful age of eighteen, joined
his command in Mecklenburg county, and had followed him to his new
home in Georgia--formerly a gallant soldier for his country's rights,
but now transformed into a "soldier of the cross" on Christian duty in
his Heavenly Master's service.
The latter years of Captain Jack's life were spent under the care of
his second son, William H. Jack, long a successful and most worthy
merchant of Augusta, Ga. In 1813 or 1814, Captain Jack moved from
Wilkes to Elbert county, of the same State. There being no
Presbyterian church in reach, of which he had been for many years a
devout and consistent member, he joined the Methodist church, with
which his children had previously united. He was extremely fond of
meeting with old friends, and of narrating incidents of the Revolution
in which he had actively participated, and for its success freely
contributed of his substance. In the serenity of a good old age,
protracted beyond the usual boundaries of life, he cared but little
for things of this world, and took great delight in reading his Bible,
and deriving from its sacred pages those Christian consolations which
alone can yield true comfort and happiness, and cheer the pathway of
our earthly pilgrimage to the tomb. He met his approaching end with
calm resignation, and died on the 18th of December, 1822, in the
ninety-first year of his age. His wife, the partner of his joys and
his sorrows through a long and eventful life, survived him about two
years, and then passed away in peace.
Cynthia Jack, eldest child and only daughter of Capt. James Jack,
married A.S. Cosby, and settled in Mississippi. After his death the
widow and family settled in Louisiana, about 1814. Their descendants
were: 1. Margaret. 2. Cynthia. 3. James; and 4. Dr. Charles Cosby.
Patrick Jack, eldest son of Captain James Jack, was Colonel of the 8th
Regiment U.S. Infantry, in the war of 1812, stationed at Savannah. He
sustained an elevated position in society, frequently represented
Elbert county in the State Senate, and died in 1820. His children
were: 1. Patrick. 2. William II.; and 3. James W. Jack. Patrick Jack,
the eldest son, married Miss Spencer, and, in turn, had two daughters,
Harriet and Margaret, and six sons: 1. James. 2. William II. 3.
Patrick C. 4. Spencer II. 5. Abner; and G. Churchill Jack. Abner died
several years ago in Mississippi--a planter by occupation, and a man
James Jack, eldest son of Col. Patrick Jack, married, in 1822, Ann
Scott Gray, who died in 1838. In 1847, he married Mary Jane
Witherspoon, having by the first wife ten, and by the second, eleven
children, of whom at present (1876) twelve are living. In 1823, he
moved to Jefferson county, Ala., and one year afterward to Hale
county, in the same State, where he ended his days. During the fall of
the last year (1875) the author received from him two interesting
letters respecting the history of his ever-memorable grandfather,
Capt. James Jack, after his removal from North Carolina to Georgia.
But alas! the uncertainty of human life! Before the year closed this
venerable, intelligent, and truly Christian man was numbered with the
dead! He was a successful farmer, the prudent counsellor of his
neighborhood, good to the poor, dispensing his charities with a
liberal hand, and was universally beloved by all who knew him. On the
27th of November he had a severe stroke of paralysis, from which he
never recovered. On the 27th of December, 1875, like a sheaf, ripe in
its season, he was cut down, and gathered to his fathers, quietly
passing away in the seventy-sixth year of his age, with the fond hope
of a blissful immortality beyond the grave.
Churchill Jack, youngest son of Col. Patrick Jack, is a farmer in
Arkansas, and the only one of this family now (1876) living. William
H., Patrick C. and Spencer H. Jack, all young and adventurous spirits,
emigrated from Alabama to Texas in 1831, and cast their lots with the
little American colony which was then just beginning to establish
itself. They were all three lawyers by profession, and took an active
interest and part in the difficulties with Mexico, which were sure to
result in open hostilities and the independence of Texas. Spencer H.
Jack died young and without issue.
Patrick C. Jack played a prominent part in one of the earliest acts
"rebellion" against the Mexican authorities. He, Travis and Edward, at
Anahuac, smarting under the tyranny of the Mexican General, Bradburn,
then commanding the post, denounced and rebelled against his
usurpations and oppression. For this they were seized and imprisoned
by Bradburn, and held as _captive traitors_, until released by a
company of armed Texans, who demanded their _immediate surrender or a
fight_. Bradburn, not having a particular fondness for _leaden
arguments_, and well knowing the message _meant business_, reluctantly
yielded to the stern demand. But this chivalric rescue, as might be
expected, was regarded by Mexico _as treason_, and war soon afterward
After the close of the Mexican war Patrick C. Jack returned to his
profession, which he pursued successfully. At the time of his death,
in 1844, though still a young man, he was one of the Judges of the
Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas. His brother, William H. Jack,
also participated prominently in council, and in the field in the
Revolution of Texas, and served as a private in the battle of San
Jacinto, which sealed the independence of the "Lone Star" Republic. He
achieved distinction in his profession as a lawyer and advocate, and
served repeatedly as Representative and Senator in the Congress of the
young Republic. Under President Burnet's administration he became
Secretary of State. He, too, died in 1844, not having attained his
fortieth year. He left a widow and three children, two of the latter
being daughters. His elder daughter is the wife of Hon. W.P.
Ballinger, of the city of Galveston, lately appointed to the bench of
the Supreme Court of Texas, which position he declined. His second
daughter (now deceased) married the Hon. Grey M. Bryan, of Galveston,
who represented his district in Congress before the war, and was
Speaker of the House of Representatives of Texas in 1875.
Colonel Thomas M. Jack, only son of William H. Jack, and
great-grandson of Captain James Jack, of Mecklenburg memory, is an
eminent lawyer and advocate, also of Galveston (of the firm of
Ballinger, Jack and Mott), to whom the author acknowledges his
indebtedness for many particulars respecting the Texan members of the
William Houston Jack, second son of Captain James Jack, was one of the
first settlers, and successful merchants of Augusta, Ga. After his
withdrawal from the mercantile business, he settled in Wilkes county,
taking care of his aged father and mother until their death. He
married Frances Cummins, a daughter of the Rev. Francis Cummins, one
of the witnesses of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. He
was universally beloved by all who knew him, and sustained through
life a character of unsullied integrity. He left one son, William
Cummins Jack, a teacher by profession, a fine classical scholar, and a
gentleman of culture and great moral worth. He is now (1876) residing
with his second son, William H. Jack, a distinguished lawyer (of the
firm of "Jack and Pierson") of Natchitoches, La. His eldest son, Dr.
Samuel Jack, is an eminent physician, of extensive practice, residing
in Columbia county, Arkansas. Two other sons are industrious farmers,
and all are pursuing successfully their several vocations of life. For
the patriotic services, civil and military, performed by different
members of the Jack family, Texas, in her formation stage, honored one
of her counties with their name.
James W. Jack, third son of Captain James Jack, married Annie Barnett,
a daughter of John Barnett and Ann Spratt. He was a farmer by
profession, of unblemished character, and extensive influence,
residing and ending his days in Wilkes county, Ga. He had the
following children: 1. Samuel T.; 2. Jane; 3. James, (killed at the
massacre of the Alamo, under Col. Faonin) 4. Lillis; 5. Patrick, and
6. Cynthia Jack. Samuel T. Jack married Martha Webster, of
Mississippi; Jane Jack married Dr. James Jarratt; Lillis Jack married
Osborne Edward, Esq., and Patrick Jack married Emily Hanson, of Texas.
John Jack, second son of Patrick Jack, of Charlotte, preceding and
during the Revolutionary War, lived on McAlpine's Creek, in
Mecklenburg county. He performed a soldier's duty during the war, and
soon after its termination, moved to Wilkes county, Ga. Of his further
history and descendants, little is now known.
Samuel Jack, third son of Patrick Jack, of Charlotte, was also a
soldier of the Revolution, and commanded an artillery company. He
lived in the Sugar Creek neighborhood, and married, 1st. Miss Knight,
of Mecklenburg county, by whom he had two children, 1. Eliza D. Jack,
who married the Rev. Mr. Hodge, a Presbyterian minister, and settled
in Athens, Ga., and 2. James Jack, who died when a young man. A few
years after her death, he married Margaret Stewart, of Philadelphia,
Pa., by whom he had five children: 1. Samuel Stewart; 2. John
McCormick; 3. William D.; 4. Mary E., and 5. Amanda M. Jack. Samuel S.
Jack married Elizabeth Meredith, of Walton county, Ga., in 1831. None
of the other children ever married. He had five children: 1. William
Howard; 2. Amanda E.; 3. James Mortimer; 4. Joseph Henry, and 5. Sarah
M. Jack. Of these, William Howard Jack, in 1860, married Mary
Lunsdale, by whom he had five children. He was a printer and editor,
and highly respected by all who knew him. He died in April, 1876, in
Rome, Ga., aged forty-two years. His son, James Mortimer Jack, was
killed in the late war. Amanda E. Jack a worthy lady, is now (1876)
living in the country with her brother, Joseph Henry Jack.
Robert Jack, the fourth and youngest son of Patrick Jack, of
Charlotte, remained in Chambersburg, Pa., where his father had resided
many years previous to his removal to North Carolina. He had the
following children: 1. James; 2. John; 3. Cynthia, and 4. Margaret
Jack. John Jack was the only one of this family who married. He was
born in Chambersburg, on the 29th of December, 1763. At the age of
sixteen, he went to Baltimore, engaged as a clerk in a mercantile
house, and there acquired those correct business habits and
educational training which qualified him for future usefulness. Near
the close of the last, century, when quite a young man, he settled in
Romney, Hampshire county, Va. He there became a successful merchant,
and sustained, through a long and busy life, an unblemished reputation
for honesty, integrity and general uprightness of character. He
married Rebecca Singleton, an estimable lady who survived him a few
In 1823, he was appointed Cashier of the Romney Branch of the Valley
Bank of Virginia, which position he held until his death, with
distinguished ability. The former intelligent Mayor of Romney, (A.P.
White, Esq.,) in writing to the author, says:
"John Jack, when young, was of a gay and festive
disposition. After he joined the church, he sobered down to
great calmness and evenness. He was always exceedingly neat
in his person, courteous in his manners, and kind and
charitable to the poor. He bore through life, the character
of an earnest, honest, and upright man of business, was an
Elder of the Presbyterian Church, and a good Christian."
He died on the 28th of September, 1837, in the seventy-fourth year of
his age. He had the following children: 1. Robert Y.; 2. Carlton T.;
3. James R.; 4. John; 5. Margaret; 6. Juliette M.; 7. John G., and 8.
Edward W. Jack. The last named son is now (1876) the only one of the
family living. Robert Y. Jack settled in Winchester, Va., and engaged
in merchandising. In the war of 1812, he raised a company which was
stationed at Craney Island, and participated in the battle at that
Robert Y. Jack died near Charleston, Jefferson county, Va., in 1834,
leaving an only child, Frances Rebecca, who married Thomas J. Manning,
of the U.S. Navy. They both died previous to the late Confederate war,
leaving three sons: 1. Charles J.; 2. George Upshur, and 3. Frank Jack
Manning. Each one of these brave youths joined the Confederate army,
all under the age of eighteen years. George Upshur was killed in the
cavalry charge under General Stewart at Brandy Station. Frank Jack was
shot through the body, but recovered of his severe wound and continued
in the army. They all three served under General (Stonewall) Jackson,
through his campaigns, and after his death, under General Early.
John G. Jack settled in Louisville, Ky., and died there, leaving three
daughters and one son, Robert Bruce Jack.
Edward W. Jack, youngest son of John Jack, of Romney, now lives near
Salem, Roanoke county, Va., in the quiet fruition of all that pertains
to an honorable _bachelor's_ life. All the members of this family have
sustained exemplary characters, and now occupy fair and eminent
positions in society.
Charity Jack, eldest daughter of Patrick Jack, of Charlotte, married
Dr. Cornelius Dysart, a distinguished physician and surgeon of the
Revolutionary army. The Dysart family, at that time, resided in
Mecklenburg county. Dr. Dysart is said to have built the first house
on the "Irwin corner," assisted by his brother-in-law, Captain Jack,
who owned the lot until his removal to Georgia, shortly after the war.
Dr. Dysart died comparatively young, leaving a widow and two children,
James and Robert Dysart, who settled in Georgia. Of their subsequent
history little is known. Jane (or "Jean,") Jack, second daughter of
Patrick Jack, married William Barnett, son of John Barnett and Ann
Spratt, of Scotch-Irish descent. The name Spratt is generally spelled
"Sprot," or "Sproat," in the old records. Thomas Spratt is said to
have been the _first person_ who crossed the Yadkin river, _with
wheels_; and his daughter Ann the _first child_ born in the beautiful
champaign country between the Yadkin and Catawba rivers. He first
intended to settle on Rocky River (now in Cabarrus county), but Indian
disturbances occurring there near the time of his arrival, induced him
to select a home in the vicinity of the place which afterward became
the "town of Charlotte." At his humble dwelling, one mile and a half
south of Charlotte, was held the _first Court_ of Mecklenburg county.
Abraham Alexander, the Chairman of the Mecklenburg Convention of the
20th of May, 1775, and Colonel Thomas Polk, its "herald of freedom" on
the same occasion, were then prominent and influential members of this
primitive body of county magistrates. Near the residence of Thomas
Spratt is one of the oldest private burial grounds in the county, in
which his mortal remains repose. Here are found the grave-stones of
several members of the Spratt, Barnett and Jack families, who
intermarried; also those of the Binghams, McKnights, and a few others.
On the head-stone of Mary Barnett, wife of William Barnett, it is
recorded, she died on the 4th of October, 1764, aged forty-five years.
A hickory tree, ten or twelve inches in diameter, is now growing on
this grave, casting around its beneficent shade. The primitive forest
growth, once partially cut down, is here fast assuming its original
sway, and peacefully overshadowing the mortal remains of these early
sleepers in this ancient graveyard.
The descendants of William Barnett and Jane Jack were: 1. Annie
Barnett, married James Jack, third son of Captain James Jack, of
Mecklenburg memory, whose genealogy has been previously given. 2.
Samuel Barnett, married, 1st, Eliza Joyner; descendants: 1. Jane
Barnett, married A.S. Wingfield. 2. Sarah J. Barnett, married
Alexander Pope, Sen. Descendants of Samuel Barnett (second marriage)
and Elizabeth Worsham were: 1. Samuel Barnett (Washington, Ga.),
married Elizabeth A. Stone. Descendants: 1. Annie Barnett, married
Rev. William S. Bean. 2. Frank W. 3. Samuel (Davidson College.) 4.
Osborne S. 5. Edward A. 6. Hattie A.; and 7. Susan Barnett.
The descendants of John Jack and Mary Barnett were: 1. Ann Jack,
married Moses Wiley. 2. Mary A. Jack, married John J. Barnett. 3. Dr.
Thomas Jack. 4. John Jack. 5. Samuel Jack, married Annie Leslie. 6.
Susan Jack, married Alexander Bowie, formerly Chancellor of Alabama.
The descendants of Moses Wiley and Ann Jack were: 1. Leroy M. Wiley.
2. Mary Wiley, married Thomas Baxter. 3. Thomas Wiley. 4. Eliza Wiley,
married Mr. Carnes. 5. Sarah Ann, married John R. Hays. 6. Laird
Wiley; and 7. Jack Wiley.
The descendants of Susan Barnett and George W. Smart were five
children, of whom only two arrived at the years of maturity, Albert W.
and Thomas B. Smart.
George W. Smart represented Mecklenburg county in the House of Commons
in 1805, and again in 1808. He died in May, 1810. Mrs. Smart survived
her husband many years, and was one of the _remarkable women_ of her
age. She was long known and highly esteemed in Mecklenburg and
surrounding country for her general intelligence, ardent piety, and
retentive memories of Revolutionary events. At the great gathering of
delegates and people in Charlotte, on the 20th of May, 1775, she was
present (then thirteen years old), and still retained a distinct
recollection of some of the thrilling scenes of that memorable
occasion, not the least of which was "the throwing up of hats," in the
universal outburst of applause, when the resolutions of independence
were read by Colonel Thomas Polk, from the Court-house steps.
She died on the 28th of November, 1851, aged ninety years, and is
buried, with other members of the family, in a private cemetery on her
own farm, nine miles from Charlotte, on the Camden road. It should be
stated, the grandfather of L.M. Wiley and others, (John Jack) was _a
cousin_ and not a brother, as some have supposed, of Capt. James Jack,
Our prescribed limits forbid a more extended genealogical, notice of
the Barnett family and their collateral connections, many of whom
performed a conspicuous part in the Revolutionary War. Capt. William
Barnett was a bold, energetic officer, and was frequently engaged,
with his brothers, and other ardent spirits of Mecklenburg, in that
species of partisan warfare which struck terror into the Tory ranks,
checked their atrocities, and gave celebrity to the dashing exploits
of Col. Sumpter and his brave associates.
Mary Jack, third daughter of Patrick Jack, of Charlotte, married
Captain Robert Alexander, of Lincoln county, who emigrated from
Pennsylvania to North Carolina about 1760. He commanded a company
during the Revolution, in the Cherokee expedition, under General
Rutherford; acted for several years as Commissary, and performed other
minor, but important trusts for the county. He was one of the early
band of patriots who met at Newbern on the 25th of August, 1774, and
again attended the Convention at Hillsboro, on the 21st of August,
1775. After the war, he settled on his farm, one mile northwest of
Tuckasege Ford, on the Catawba River. His residence was long a general
stopping-place for travelers, and painted red--hence, it was widely
known as the "Red House Place."
He was elected to the State Legislature consecutively from 1781 to
1787; and acted, for many years, as one of the magistrates of the
county, showing the general acceptance with which his services were
held. He died in 1813, aged about seventy years, and is buried in
Goshen graveyard, Gaston county, N.C. His descendants by the first
wife, Mary Jack, were: 1. Margaret, married Judge Samuel Lowrie; 2.
Lillis, married Capt. James Martin; 3. Robert W., married Louisa
Moore; 4. Mary, married, 1st. James J. Scott, and 2nd. General John
Moore; 5. Annie, married John Sumter, (nephew of Gen. Sumter.) His
descendants by the second wife, Margaret Reily, were: 1. Eliza 2.
Evaline; 3. Amanda, married Dr. J.C. Rudisill, of Lincolnton.
Descendants of Judge Lowrie and Margaret Alexander were: 1. Mary,
married Dr. David R. Dunlap, of Charlotte; 2. Eliza, died unmarried;
3. Margaret, do.; 4. Lillis, married B. Oates; 5. Robert B., married
Ann Sloan; 6. Samuel, married Mary Johnson.
Margaret Jack, fourth daughter of Patrick Jack, married Samuel Wilson,
of Mecklenburg. (For his descendants, see "Genealogy of Samuel Wilson,
Lillis Jack, the fifth and youngest daughter of Patrick Jack, married
Joseph Nicholson. He left the State, and is reported as having a
family of six children, but of their subsequent history little is
Colonel Patrick Jack, a brave and meritorious officer under the
Colonial Government, and during the Revolutionary war, was the son of
Charles Jack, who lived on the Conococheague river, near Chambersburg,
Pa., and was probably the brother of Patrick Jack, of Charlotte, N.C.,
whose family history has just been given.
Colonel Jack lived an active and adventurous life, and was born about
1730. He was much engaged, when a young man, in assisting to subdue
the Indians in Pennsylvania, and commanded a company of Rangers, under
Generals Braddock and Washington, in the Indian and French war of
1755. He also commanded a regiment, and participated actively in the
Revolutionary War. He was in the Cherokee country many years anterior
to the Revolution.
He was at the massacre of the garrison in Fort London, on the
Tennessee River in 1760, and was one of three persons who survived,
his life having been saved through the influence of the Indian chief,
_Atta-kulla-kulla_, the "Little Carpenter." He had three children;
Mary, Jane, and John Finley Jack. John was educated at Dickinson
College, Carlisle, Pa. He studied law, and emigrated to Knoxville,
then the capital of Tennessee, where he soon acquired eminence, and a
lucrative practice in his profession. He afterward removed to
Rutledge, in Grainger county, East Tennessee, where he associated
himself in the same profession with his brother-in-law, the late
General John Cocke, a son of General William Cocke, one of the
distinguished characters in the early history of Tennessee. He took a
prominent part in the politics of the country, filled the offices of
Circuit Clerk, State's Attorney, served several times in both branches
of the Legislature, and was finally elected Circuit Judge, which
position he held for many years. When the infirmities of old age
impeded his activity and usefulness, he retired from public life to
his plantation near Bean's Station, East Tennessee, where he ended his
He was a profound lawyer, a Judge of great purity of character, of
remarkable discrimination and integrity of purpose, evinced through a
long, useful, and honorable life. He was a hard student, possessed
fine colloquial powers, and was a man of eminent learning and
Judge John F. Jack married Elizabeth, next to the youngest daughter of
General William Cocke, previously mentioned, who was a Captain in the
Revolutionary War, a companion of Daniel Boon from western North
Carolina across the Alleghany mountains to the "wilderness of
Kentucky," a prominent actor in the establishment of the "Frankland
Government," one of the first Senators to Congress from the new State
of Tennessee, and afterward, one of the Circuit Judges of that State.
He served in the Legislatures of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee
and Mississippi. At the advanced age of sixty-five years, he
volunteered in the war of 1812, and distinguished himself for his
personal courage. He died on the 8th of August, 1828, in the
eighty-seventh year of his age, universally lamented, and is buried in
It has been previously stated that Col. Patrick Jack, the father of
Judge John F. Jack, led an active and adventurous life. One of these
adventures will be now narrated.
In Dr. Ramsey's "Annals of Tennessee," page 68, we have this record:
"A grant, signed Arthur Dobbs, Governor of North Carolina;
William Beamer, Sen., Superintendent and Deputy Adjutant in
and for the Cherokee Nation; and William Beamer, Jun.,
Interpreter; and the 'Little Carpenter,' half king of the
Cherokee Nation of the over-hill towns; and Matthew Toole,
Interpreter, made to Captain Patrick Jack, of the province
of Pennsylvania, is recorded in the Register's office of
Knox county, Tennessee. It purports to have been made at a
council held at Tennessee River, on the 1st of March, 1757.
The consideration is four hundred dollars, and conveys to
Capt. Jack _fifteen miles square_ south of the Tennessee
river. The grant itself, confirmatory of the purchase by
Jack, is dated at a general council, met at the Catawba
River, on the 7th of May, 1762, and is witnessed by
Upon this speculative transaction it is proper to make a few
explanatory remarks. About 1750, East Tennessee was beginning to be
settled by adventurous individuals, principally from western North
Carolina, south-western Virginia, and occasionally from more northern
colonies. The Indians were still regarded as the rightful owners and
proper "lords of the soil." At the date of the council held at the
Tennessee River in 1757, only that portion of the country north of
that stream had become sparsely settled, but soon thereafter purchases
of land were sometimes made directly from the Indian chiefs
themselves, as in the above instance, and settlements of whites
speedily followed. Matthew Toole, one of the parties named, had lived
among the Cherokee Indians, and taken to "bed and board," as a wife,
one of the swarthy damsels of that tribe--hence his qualification as
interpreter. He lived on the eastern bank of the Catawba river, in
Mecklenburg county, giving origin to the name of the ford which still
bears his name. Nathaniel Alexander, the subscribing witness, was then
an acting magistrate of the county, and a man of extensive influence.
Colonel Patrick Jack, the father of Judge John F. Jack, died in
Chambersburg, Pa., on the 25th of January, 1821, aged ninety-one
years. His daughter, Jane Stewart, died in 1853, also aged ninety-one
years. His daughter Mary (never married) died on the 29th of May,
1862, aged eighty-five years.
The family of Judge John F. Jack consisted of eight children, of whom,
at the present time (1876) only four are living, viz.: Martha Mariah
(Mrs. Dr. Rhoton), of Morristown, East Tennessee; William Pinkney
Jack, of Russelville, Ala.; John F. Jack, of West Point Mississippi,
both worthy and eminent lawyers in their respective locations; and
Sarah Anne (Mrs. Dr. Carriger), of Morristown, Tenn. Few persons, in
the early history of East Tennessee, were held in as great estimation,
and filled with universal acceptance as many important positions of
public trust as Judge John F. Jack. The county seat of justice of
Campbell county, Jacksboro, was named in his honor, and his
descendants should hold in cherished remembrance his purity of life
and unsullied integrity of character.
GENEALOGY OF SAMUEL WILSON, SEN.
Samuel Wilson, Sr., was one of the earliest settlers of Mecklenburg
county, and the patriarchal ancestor of numerous descendants, who
performed important civil and military services in the Revolutionary
war. He emigrated from Pennsylvania about 1745, and purchased a large
body of valuable lands in the bounds of Hopewell church, in
Mecklenburg county. He was of Scotch-Irish descent, and inherited the
peculiar traits of that liberty-loving, people. He was married three
times, and was the father of thirteen children. His first wife was
Mary Winslow, a sister of Moses Winslow, one of the early and leading
patriots of Rowan county, who died on the 1st of October, 1813, in the
eighty-third year of his age, and is buried in the graveyard of Center
Samuel Wilson, Sr., died on the 13th of March, 1778, in the
sixty-eighth year of his age. His children, by the first wife, were:
1. Mary; 2. Violet; 3. Samuel; 4. John. 5. Benjamin Wilson. Mary, the
eldest daughter, married Ezekiel Polk, the father of Samuel Polk, and
grandfather of James K. Polk, President of the United States in 1845.
Ezekiel Polk was a man of wealth and influence in Mecklenburg county
preceding the Revolution, and owned a large body of the valuable lands
in and around the present flourishing village of Pineville. Samuel
Polk inherited a portion of this land, lying in the "horse shoe bend"
of Little Sugar Creek, and immediately on the Camden road, over which
Cornwallis marched with his army on his celebrated visit (the first
and the last) to the "Hornet Nest" of America.
2. Violet Wilson married Major John Davidson, one of the signers of
the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.
3. Samuel Wilson, a soldier of the Revolution, married Hannah Knox, a
daughter of Captain Patrick Knox, killed at the battle of Ramsour's
Mill. He raised a large family, all of whom have passed away, falling
mostly as victims of consumption. His daughter Mary (or "Polly")
married her cousin Benjamin Wilson, (son of David Wilson) who was
killed by Nixon Curry, because he was to appear in court as a witness
4. _Major David Wilson_, an ardent patriot, and one of the heroes
under Colonel Locke at Ramsour's Mill, married Sallie McConnell, a
sister of Mrs. General James White, the father of the Hon. Hugh Lawson
White. (See sketch of his life, under "Iredell County.")
5. Mrs. Adaline McCoy, of Lincolnton, is a daughter, and worthy
descendant of Moses Winslow Wilson, a son of Major David Wilson. John
and Benjamin Wilson, the remaining sons of Samuel Wilson, Sr., by the
first wife, never married.
6. After General Davidson was killed at Cowan's Ford, on the morning
of the 1st of February, 1781, Major David Wilson, and Richard Barry,
Esq, both of whom participated in the skirmish at that place, secured
the body of their beloved commander, and carried it to the residence
of Samuel Wilson, Sr., to receive the usual preparatory attentions for
burial. Mrs. Davidson, who resided about ten miles distant, in the
vicinity of Center Church was immediately sent for; she came as
hastily as possible in the afternoon, under the charge of George
Templeton one of her neighbors, and received, on that solemn occasion,
the heart-felt condolence and sympathy of numerous sorrowing friends
and relatives. In consequence of this necessary delay, those true
patriots and friends of the deceased (Wilson and Barry) moved with the
body late in the evening of the same day, and committed it to the
silent tomb, _by torchlight_, in Hopewell graveyard.
7. _Rebecca Wilson_, the youngest daughter by the first wife, married
John Henderson. After the birth of two children, they set out from
Mecklenburg, with the intention of moving to Tennessee, accompanied by
a brother and sister of Henderson. On the way, while they were
stopping for dinner, they were suddenly attacked by Indians. Henderson
and his wife were killed. The brother and sister each seized a child
and made their escape. The children were brought back to Mecklenburg
county, and properly cared for by their relatives; but, after they
grew up, and Indian outrages having subsided, they returned to
The second wife of Samuel Wilson, Sr., was a widow Potts. Having a
feeble constitution, she lived but a short time, leaving a daughter,
named Margaret, who married John Davidson, an uncle of the late
William Davidson, Esq., of Charlotte. After she was left a widow, she
moved with her three children, Samuel Wilson, John (or "Jackey") and
Mary Davidson, to Alabama, where a large number of her descendants may
be now found in Bibb and adjoining counties of that State.
The children of Major John Davidson and Violet Wilson were:
1. Isabella Davidson married Gen. Joseph Graham, of Lincoln county,
the father of the late Hon. William A. Graham and others.
2. Rebecca Davidson married Capt. Alexander Brevard, a brother of Dr.
Ephraim Brevard, the reputed author of the Mecklenburg Declaration of
the 20th of May, 1775, and one of the "seven brothers in the rebel
army," at one time.
3. Violet Davidson married William Bain Alexander, a son of John
McKnitt Alexander, one of the secretaries of the Mecklenburg
4. Elizabeth Davidson married William Lee Davidson, a son of General
Davidson, who fell at Cowan's Ford.
5. Mary Davidson married Dr. William McLean, a distinguished physician
during and after the Revolution.
6. Sarah Davidson married Alexander Caldwell, a son of Dr. David
Caldwell, an eminent Presbyterian minister of Guilford county.
7. Margaret Davidson married Major James Harris, of Cabarrus county.
8. John (or "Jackey") Davidson, married Sallie Brevard, a daughter of
Adam Brevard, a brother of Dr. Ephraim Brevard.
9. Robert Davidson married Margaret Osborne, a daughter of Adlai
Osborne, the grandfather of the late Jas. W. Osborne, of Charlotte.
10. Benjamin Wilson Davidson married Elizabeth Latta, a daughter of
James Latta, Esq.
The third wife of Samuel Wilson, Sr., was Margaret Jack, a sister of
Captain Jack, the bearer of the Mecklenburg Declaration to Congress.
By this marriage there were five children:
1. _Sarah Wilson_, married Ben McConnell, who had three children,
Charity, Latta and Wilson McConnell. Charity McConnell married Reese
Davidson, a nephew of General Ephraim Davidson. This family, and also
that of Wilson McConnell, moved to Tennessee.
2. _Charity Wilson_, died at the age of sixteen years.
3. _Robert Wilson_, married Margaret Alexander, a daughter of Major
Thomas Alexander, and grand-daughter of Neil Morrison, one of the
Mecklenburg signers. He left five daughters, and one son, who lost his
life in the Confederate cause.
4. _Lillis Wilson_, (frequently written "Lillie,") married James
Connor, who emigrated from Ireland when about twenty-one years of age;
volunteered his services at the commencement of the Revolutionary War,
and fought through the struggle to its close. He died in April, 1835,
aged eighty-four years, and is buried in Baker's graveyard. He left
two children, Henry Workman and Margaret Jack Conner. H. Workman
Conner was a worthy and influential citizen of Charleston, S.C., where
he spent about fifty years of his life, and died in January, 1861.
Margaret J. Connor married J. Franklin Brevard, a son of Capt.
Alexander Brevard, of Lincoln county. She was an estimable Christian
lady, survived her husband many years, was beloved by all who knew
her, and died with peaceful resignation, on the 25th of October, 1866,
in the sixty-eighth year of her age. Her only child, Rebecca, married
Robert I. McDowell, Esq., of Mecklenburg county.
5. _William Jack Wilson_, youngest child of Samuel Wilson, Sr., by the
third wife, married Rocinda Winslow, the youngest daughter of Moses
Winslow. The house in which this old patriot then resided, has long
since disappeared. It stood on the public road, about three miles
southwest of Center church. A large Honey Locust tree now (1876)
nearly points out its original location.
William J. Wilson left four children: 1. Dovey A., (Mrs. Dougherty); 2
Robert; 3. La Fayette, and 4. James C. Wilson.
The house in which Samuel Wilson, Sr., resided, and to which the body
of General Davidson was borne by David Wilson and Richard Barry,
before sepulture, was a two-story frame building. No portion of it now
remains and the plow runs smoothly over its site. Robert and William
J. Wilson built on the old homestead property. These two brothers were
closely united in filial affection during their lives, and now lie,
side by side, in Hopewell graveyard.
Mrs. Margaret Jack Wilson, third wife of Samuel Wilson, Sr., is
described by all who knew her, as a woman of uncommon energy, of an
amiable disposition, charitable to the poor, and a truly humble
Christian. She died at the age of fifty-eight years, was never sick
during her life, until a few days before her death, and is buried in
Baker's graveyard. When drawing near to the close of her earthly
existence, she was asked if she had a desire to live longer; she
replied, "No; she was like a ship long tossed at sea and about to land
at a port of rest."
In this same spot of ground, (Baker's graveyard,) five miles northeast
of Beattie's Foard, on the Catawba, consecrated as the last
resting-place of some of the earliest settlers of Mecklenburg county,
repose the mortal remains of the Rev. John Thompson, one of the first
Presbyterian missionaries in this section of the State, and who died
in September, 1753. No monumental slab or head-stone is placed at his
grave. Tradition says he built a cabin (or study-house) in the
northwestern angle of the graveyard, and was buried beneath its floor,
being the first subject of interment. John Baker, who lived in the
immediate vicinity, married his daughter, and dying a few years later,
gave the permanent name to the burial-ground. Here also repose the
remains of _Hugh Lawson_, the grandfather of the Hon. Hugh Lawson
White, a native of Iredell county. The only tablet to the memory of
this early settler, is a rough slate rock, about one foot high and
nine inches broad, on which are rudely chiseled the initial letters of
his name, thus combined, HL. In subsequent years, after the erection
of Hopewell Church, the most of the Wilson family and relatives were
buried in the graveyard at that place.
CAPTAIN CHARLES POLK'S "MUSTER ROLL."
Among the interesting Revolutionary records of Mecklenburg county,
which have been preserved, is the "Muster Roll" of Captain Charles
Polk's Company of "Light Horse," with the time of service and pay of
each member thereof, as follows:
"Dr. The Public of North Carolina,
"To Captain Charles Polk, for services done by him and his
Company of Light Horse, who entered the 12th of March, 1776.
"Captain, Charles Polk.
1st Lieut, William Ramsey.
2nd Lieut., John Lemmond.
1st Sergt, John Montgomery
2nd Sergt., William Galbraith (erased).
Drummer, Hugh Lindsay.
John Polk, Sen. (erased).
William ---- (illegible).
Robert Harris, Jun.
Charles Alexander, Sen.
Charles Alexander, Jun.
Charles Polk, Jun.
William Lemmond, 'Clerk to the said company, and Shurgeon to y'e
Remarks.--The whole expense of Captain Polk's company in this campaign
for sixty-five days, including the hire of three wagons at 16s. each
per day, and two thousand and five rations, at 8d. each, amounted to
L683 9s. 8d. The account was proven, according to law, before Colonel
Adam Alexander, one of the magistrates of the county, and audited and
countersigned by Ephraim Alexander, George Mitchell and James Jack,
the bearer of the Mecklenburg Declaration to Congress. The pay of a
Captain was then 10s. per day; of a 1st and 2nd Lieutenant, 7s. each;
of a first Sergeant, 6s. 6d.; of a 2nd Sergeant, 5s. 6d.; of the Clerk
and "Shurgeon," 6s. 6d.; and of each private, 5s.
James Hall, one of the privates in this expedition, afterward became a
distinguished Presbyterian minister of the gospel, and was elected on
two occasions by his own congregation, in pressing emergencies, to the
captaincy of a company, and acted as chaplain of the forces with which
he was associated. The late Rev. John Robinson, of Poplar Tent Church,
in Cabarrus county, in speaking of him, said, "when a boy at school in
Charlotte (Queen's Museum), I saw James Hall pass through the town,
with his three-cornered hat, the captain of a company and chaplain of
the regiment." In Captain Polk's manuscript journal of his march,
under Gen. Rutherford, through the mountains of North Carolina, then
the unconquered haunts of wild beasts and savage Indians, he says: "On
September 15th, 1776, Mr. Hall preached a sermon," prompted, as it
appears, by the death of one of Captain Irwin's men on the day before.
This was probably the first sermon ever heard in these secluded
mountainous valleys, now busy with the hum of civilized life. (See
sketch of his services under "Iredell County.")
Humphrey Hunter, first a private and afterward lieutenant in Captain
Robert Mebane's company in this expedition, also became an eminent
minister of the gospel, and presided at the _semi-centennial_
celebration of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, on the
20th of May, 1825. (See sketch of his services under Gaston county.)
William Shields was the gallant soldier of General Sumter's command,
who discovered a bag of gold in the camp of the routed enemy after the
battle of Hanging Rock. Not less generous than brave, steady on the
march, and true on the field, he voluntarily carried the gold to his
commanding general, and requested him to use it in the purchase of
clothing and shoes for his ragged and suffering fellow-soldiers. It is
needless to say that this brave and meritorious officer faithfully
applied it according to the request of the honest and generous
Thomas Shelby, a relative of Colonel Isaac Shelby, of King's Mountain
fame, James Alexander, Charles Polk, Jun., Robert Harris, William
Ramsey, John Foard (one of the Mecklenburg signers), John Lemmond,
John Montgomery, William Rea, and others on the list, will awaken in
the minds of their descendants emotions of veneration for their
patriotic ancestors, who, one hundred years ago--at the very dawn of
the Revolution, and before a _hesitating_ Congress, proclaimed our
National declaration, pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor
in the cause of American freedom.
PRESIDENT JAMES K. POLK.
James Knox Polk, son of Samuel Polk, and grandson of Ezekiel Polk, was
born on the 2nd of November, 1793 about eleven miles south of
Charlotte, on the Camden road, on a plantation which, at his father's
removal to Tennessee in 1806, became the property of Nathan Orr, and
finally that of the late James Hennigan, Esq. The house in which James
K. Polk was born, stood about two hundred yards south of the present
crossing place of Little Sugar Creek, and about one hundred yards to
the right of the public road in passing from Charlotte. The lingering
signs of the old family mansion are still visible; and the plow, in
this _centennial year_, runs smoothly over its site, presenting a more
vigorous growth of the great Southern staple, _cotton_, than the
adjoining lands. The plantation was a part of the valuable lands owned
by Ezekiel Polk in the "Providence" settlement, and near the present
flourishing village of "Pineville." The family mansion, around which
"Jimmy Polk" sported with his younger brothers and sisters, and wended
their way in frolicsome mood to a neighboring school, was an humble
building, made by joining two hewn log houses together, with a passage
between, in the common style of the first settlers. In 1851 Mr.
Hennigan, the last owner of the property, moved one half of the
building, apparently the better portion; but with a badly decayed
roof, to his barn-yard, and near his handsome residence on the rising
ground south-east of its original location, and re-covered it, where
it may be seen at the present time.
Samuel Polk, the father of James K. Polk, married Jane, a daughter of
James Knox, a soldier of the Revolution, who lived at a place about
midway between the residences of the late Rev. John Williamson and
Benjamin Wilson Davidson, Esq., youngest son of Major John Davidson.
He had ten children, of whom James K. was the eldest, and who early
displayed quick, intuitive powers, He received the principal part of
his education in North Carolina, and graduated in 1818 at the State
University, with the highest honors of his class. While at college, he
laid the foundations of his future fame and usefulness.
It is said he never missed a single recitation, or avoided a single
duty during the whole course of his collegiate term. After graduating,
he returned to Tennessee, his father's adopted state, commenced the
study of law in the office of the Hon. Felix Grundy, and was admitted
to the bar in 1820. In 1823, he entered the stormy sea of politics, in
which he was destined to achieve a brilliant career. In 1825, he was
elected to Congress, and in 1835, was made Speaker of the House of
Representatives, which honorable position he held for five sessions.
After serving fourteen years, with distinguished ability and
impartiality, he declined a re-election. During this long and
laborious service, he was never known to be absent, for a single day,
from the House. In 1839, after an animated contest, he was elected
Governor of Tennessee. In May, 1844, he was nominated as a candidate
for the Presidency of the United States. His majority in the Electoral
College over Henry Clay for this high office was sixty-five votes. The
great labor he performed at a period of unexampled danger to the
republic, and of difficulties with foreign nations, operated seriously
upon his debilitated system, and hastened his end.
In May, 1844, in accepting the nomination, he declared in advance,
that, if elected, he would only serve _one term_. And in a letter
addressed to the Convention, through Dr. J.G.M. Ramsey, of Knoxville,
he re-iterated his determination, and voluntarily declined, when many
of his friends deemed his name the only available means of success.
His precarious and constantly declining state of health, forcibly
admonished him of his early departure from the scenes of earth. He
calmly met his approaching end, and died at Nashville, on the 15th of
June, 1849, in the forty-fourth year of his age.
When the mists of party and prejudice shall have subsided, and the
dispassionate verdict of posterity be given, the services of James K.
Polk will be acknowledged as unsurpassed in the annals of our nation;
and his noble and disinterested example of only serving _one term_,
will be regarded by all pure-minded occupants of the Presidential
Chair, as worthy of imitation.
Mecklenburg county is proud of her son!
In the old "Polk Graveyard," nine miles from Charlotte, is the
tombstone of Mrs. Maria Polk, a grand-aunt of President Polk,
containing a lengthy eulogy, in poetry and prose, of this good woman.
The first sentence, "_Virtus non exemptio a morte_"[H] is neatly
executed on a semicircle, extending over the prostrate figure of a
departed female saint, sculptured with considerable skill on the
soapstone slab, but now scarcely visible on account of the
over-spreading moss and lichen. Immediately beneath the _sainted
figure_ is the expression, _Formosa etsi mortua_.[I] From the lengthy
eulogy, the following extracts are taken:
"Here, unalarmed at death's last stroke,
Lies in this tomb, Maria Polk;
A tender mother, virtuous wife.
Resigned in every scene of life.
* * * * *
"To heavenly courts she did repair;
May those she loved all meet her there.
"Supported by the hope of a happy death, and a glorious
resurrection to eternal life, she bore a tedious and painful
illness with a truly Christian fortitude. The last exercise
of her feeble mind was employed in singing the 63rd of the
second book of Dr. Watt's Hymns, in which, anticipating the
blessed society above, she exchanged the earthly for the
She died on the 29th of November, 1791, in the forty-fifth year of her
GENERAL WILLIAM DAVIDSON.
General William Davidson was the youngest son of George Davidson, and
born in 1746. His father moved from Lancaster county, in Pennsylvania,
in 1750, to North Carolina, and settled in the western part of Rowan
county (now Iredell.) Here General Davidson received his earliest
mental training, and subsequently his principal and final education at
Queen's Museum College in Charlotte, where many of the patriots of
Mecklenburg and surrounding counties were educated.
At the Provincial Congress which met at Halifax, on on the 4th of
April, 1776, four additional regiments to the two already in service,
were ordered to be raised, over one of which (the 4th) Thomas Polk was
appointed Colonel, James Thackston Lieutenant Colonel, and William
Davidson Major. With this regiment, under General Francis Nash, he
marched to join the army of the North, under General Washington, where
he served until November 1779, when the North Carolina line was
ordered south to reinforce General Lincoln, at Charleston. Previous to
this time he had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in
the line. As the troops passed through North Carolina, Colonel
Davidson obtained a furlough for a few days to visit his family, whom
he had not seen for three years. This saved him from the fate which
befell Gen. Lincoln and his army at Charleston; for, when he
approached that city, he found it so closely invested by the British
Army that he was prevented from joining his regiment. When Lincoln
surrendered, Davidson returned to Mecklenburg, and rendered important
services in subduing the Tories, who, encouraged by the success of the
British arms, became numerous, daring and oppressive.
A strong force of Tories having assembled at Coulson's Mill, General
Davidson raised a troop of volunteers and marched against them. A
fierce skirmish took place, in which he was severely wounded by a ball
passing through his body near the kidneys. This wound nearly proved
fatal, and detained him from the service about two months. After his
recovery, he again took the field, having been promoted for his
bravery to the rank of Brigadier-General in the place of General
Rutherford, made a prisoner at the battle of Camden. He was active,
with General Sumner and Colonel Davie, in checking the advance of the
British, and throughout this darkest period of the Revolution gave
ample evidence of his untiring zeal in the cause of his country.
After the battle of the Cowpens, on the 17th of January, 1781, in
which General Morgan, with an inferior force, chastised the temerity
and insolence of Tarleton, General Davidson was actively engaged in
assembling the militia of his district to aid General Greene in
impeding the advance of the British army in pursuit of General Morgan,
encumbered with more than five hundred prisoners, on his way to
Virginia. General Greene, accompanied by two or three attendants, left
his camp near the Cheraws, rode rapidly through the country, and met
General Morgan at Sherrill's Ford, on the eastern bank of the Catawba
river, and directed his future movements.
General Davidson had placed guards at Tuckasege, Toole's, Cowan's and
Beattie's Fords. When Cornwallis approached the Catawba, on the
evening of the 28th of January, he found it considerably swollen and
impassable for his infantry.
This Providential obstacle caused him to fall back five miles from the
river to Jacob Forney's plantation, a thrifty farmer of that
neighborhood. General Davidson had assembled a force of about three
hundred and fifty men at Cowan's Ford. At half past two o'clock on the
morning of the 1st of February, 1781, Cornwallis broke up his
encampment at Forney's and reached Cowan's Ford at daybreak. It was a
dark morning, accompanied with slight drizzling rain. The light
infantry, under Colonel Hall, entered first, followed by the
grenadiers and the battalions.
The picquet of the Americans challenged the enemy; receiving no reply,
the guard fired at the advancing enemy. This immediately called into
action that portion of Davidson's forces placed near the river, who
kept up a galling fire from the bank. According to Stedman, the
English historian, who accompanied Cornwallis, the Tory guide,
becoming alarmed at the firing, when the British army reached the
middle of the river, turned about and left them. This caused Colonel
Hall to lead them directly across to an unexpected landing-place.
Colonel Hall was killed as he ascended the bank; the horse of Lord
Cornwallis was shot in the river, and fell dead as he reached the
bank; three privates were killed and thirty-six wounded. The diversion
of the British army from the proper landing caused the Americans to
fire angularly and not directly upon their enemy, and hence was less
effective in its results. General Davidson, who was about half a mile
in the rear with the larger portion of his forces, arrived at the
scene of action just as the Americans were fleeing before the fire of
the well-organized and greatly superior British forces.
In attempting to rally the Americans, and venturing too near the
British army, he received a fatal shot in his breast, and fell dead
almost instantly from his horse. The loss of the Americans in privates
was only two killed and about twenty wounded.
The British infantry waded the river in platoons, and reserved their
fire until they ascended the eastern bank, and thus effected their
passage. Cornwallis remained only about three hours after the
skirmish, for the purpose of burying his dead, and then proceeded in
the direction of Salisbury. Soon after his departure David Wilson and
Richard Barry, both of whom were in the skirmish, secured the body of
their beloved commander, conveyed it to the house of Samuel Wilson,
Sen., and buried it that night by _torch-light_ in the graveyard of
Thus fell in the prime of life, and at a moment of great usefulness to
his country, this noble and patriotic soldier. Right worthily is his
name bestowed upon one of the most fertile counties of our State, and
upon a seat of learning, located near the scene of his death, which
will perpetuate his fame as long as liberty has a votary throughout
all succeeding time.
GENERAL GEORGE GRAHAM.
General George Graham was born in Pennsylvania in 1758, and came with
his widowed mother and four others to North Carolina, when about six
years old. He was chiefly educated at "Queen's Museum," in Charlotte,
and was distinguished for his assiduity, manly behaviour and
kindliness of disposition. He was early devoted to the cause of
liberty, and was ever its untiring defender. There was no duty too
perilous, no service too dangerous, that he was not ready to undertake
for the welfare and independence of his country.
In 1775, when it was reported in Charlotte that two Tory lawyers, Dunn
and Boothe, had proposed the detention of Capt. Jack on his way to
Philadelphia, and had pronounced the patriotic resolutions with which
he was entrusted, as "treasonable," George Graham was one of the
gallant spirits who rode all night to Salisbury, seized said offending
lawyers, and brought them to Mecklenburg for trial. Here, after being
found guilty of conduct "inimical to the cause of American freedom,"
they were transported to Camden, S.C., and afterward to Charleston,
Such were the open manifestations of liberty and independence in
different portions of North Carolina in 1775!
When Cornwallis lay at Charlotte in 1780, Graham took an active part
in attacking his foraging parties, making it extremely difficult and
hazardous for them to procure their necessary supplies. He was one of
the thirteen brave spirits, under Capt. James Thompson, who dared to
attack a foraging party of four hundred British troops at McIntire's
Branch, seven miles northwest of Charlotte, on the Beattie's Ford
road, compelling them to retreat, with a considerable loss of men and
a small amount of forage, fearing, as they said, an ambuscade was
prepared for their capture.
After the war, he was elected Major General of the North Carolina
militia. For many years, he was clerk of the court of Mecklenburg
county, and frequently a member of the State Legislature. He was the
people's friend, not their flatterer, and uniformly enjoyed the
confidence and high esteem of his fellow-citizens. He lived more than
half a century on his farm, two miles from Charlotte. He died on the
29th of March, 1826, in the sixty-eighth year of his age, and is
buried in the graveyard of the Presbyterian Church at Charlotte.
WILLIAM RICHARDSON DAVIE.
General William R. Davie was born in Egremont, near White Haven, in
England, on the 20th of June, 1756. When he was only five years of
age, he emigrated, with his father, Archibald Davie, to America, and
was adopted by his maternal uncle, Rev. William Richardson, who
resided on the Catawba river, in South Carolina. After due preparation
at "Queen's Museum" in Charlotte, he entered Princeton College, where,
by his close application, he soon acquired the reputation of an
excellent student. But the din of arms disturbed his collegiate
studies, so auspiciously commenced, and he forthwith exchanged the
gown for the sword. The studies of the College were closed, and Davie
volunteered his services in the army of the north in 1776. The
campaign being ended, he returned to College, and graduated in the
Fall of that year with the first honors of the Institution.
He returned to North Carolina, and commenced the study of the law in
Salisbury, but the struggle for life and liberty then going on, did
not allow his chivalric spirit to repose in quietude while his country
was in danger. Actuated by urgent patriotic motives, he induced
William Barnett, of Mecklenburg county, to raise, with as little delay
as possible, a troop of horsemen. Over this company, William Barnett
was elected Captain, and Davie, Lieutenant. The commission of the
latter is signed by Governor Caswell, and is dated the 5th of April,
1779. This company joined the southern army, and became attached to
Pulaski's Legion. Davie's gallantry and activity were so conspicuous,
that he soon rose to the rank of Major.
At the battle of Stono, near Charleston, he experienced his first
serious conflict in arms, and was severely wounded in the thigh, which
laid him up for some time in the hospital in that city. In this
engagement, Major Davie also received a wound from a heavy cavalry
charge of the enemy, which caused him to fall from his horse. He still
held the bridle, but was so severely wounded that, after repeated
efforts, he could not remount. The enemy was now close upon him and in
a moment more he would have been made a prisoner. Just at this time, a
private, whose horse had been killed, and who was retreating, saw the
imminent danger of his gallant officer, and returned at the risk of
his life to save him. With great composure he raised Major Davie on
his horse, and safely led him from the bloody field. "An action of
courage worthy of Rome in her palmiest days." In the haste and
confusion of the retreat, this brave soldier disappeared. Major Davie
made frequent inquiries for his preserver, to evince his gratitude to
him and his family, for his timely and heroic aid; but in vain.
At the siege of Ninety-Six, when Davie was acting as
Commissary-General of the Southern army, on the morning of the attack,
a soldier came to his tent, and made himself known as the man who had
assisted him in mounting his horse at Stono. The soldier promised to
call again, but, alas! he fell soon after in battle, which deprived
Major Davie of the pleasure of bestowing upon him substantial tokens
of his lasting gratitude.
After his recovery, Major Davie returned to Salisbury, and resumed the
study of law. In 1780, he obtained his license to practice, and soon
became distinguished in his profession. But the camp rather than the
Court-house, still demanded his services. In the winter of 1780, he
obtained authority from the General Assembly of North Carolina to
raise a troop of cavalry, and two companies of mounted infantry. But
the authority only was granted. The State being too poor to provide
the means, Major Davie, with a patriotism worthy of perpetual
remembrance, disposed of the estate acquired from his uncle, and thus
raised funds to equip the troops. With this force, he proceeded to the
southwestern portion of the State and protected it from the predatory
incursions of the British and Tories. Charleston having surrendered on
the 12th of May, 1780, and Tarleton's butchery of Colonel Buford's
regiment, in the Waxhaws, on the 29th, induced General Rutherford to
order out the militia in mass, to oppose the advance of the
conquerors. On the 3rd of June, nine hundred men assembled at
Charlotte, ready to defend their country. The militia were reviewed by
General Rutherford, and, after being addressed in strong, patriotic
language by Dr. Whorter, President of the College in Charlotte, were
dismissed, with directions to hold themselves in readiness at a
Lord Rawdon having advanced with the British army to Waxhaw Creek,
General Rutherford issued, on the 10th of June, his orders for the
militia to rendezvous at McKee's plantation, eighteen miles north-east
of Charlotte. The orders were obeyed, and on the 12th eight hundred
men were in arms on the ground. On the 14th the troops were organized.
The cavalry, under Major Davie, was formed into two troops under
Captains Lemmonds and Martin; a battalion of three hundred light
infantry was placed under Colonel William Davidson, a regular officer,
and the remainder under the immediate command of General Rutherford.
On the 15th of June General Rutherford marched within two miles of
Charlotte. Here he learned that Lord Rawdon had retrograded from the
Waxhaws to Camden. He then resolved to advance on the Tories, who, it
was well known, had assembled in strong force at Ramsour's Mill, near
the present town of Lincolnton. Having issued orders on the 14th to
Colonel Francis Locke, Captains Falls and Brandon, of Rowan, and to
Major David Wilson, of Mecklenburg, and to other officers, to raise
men and attack this body of Tories, he marched on the 18th eleven
miles, to Tuckasege Ford, on the Catawba River. He sent an express on
the same day to Colonel Locke to meet him with his forces three miles
north-west of the river, at Colonel Dickson's plantation. The express,
for some unknown reason, never reached Colonel Locke. This officer,
failing to secure the co-operative aid of General Rutherford, marched
from Mountain Creek late on the evening of the 19th of June, and early
on the morning of the 20th attacked and routed the Tories before the
arrival of General Rutherford's forces. (For further particulars, see
the "Battle of Ramsour's Mill," under the head of Lincoln County.)
After the battle of Ramsour's Mill, General Rutherford marched against
the Tories assembled under Colonel Bryan in the forks of Yadkin River,
while Major Davie was ordered to move with his mounted force and take
position near the South Carolina line, to protect this exposed
frontier from the incursions of the British and the Tories. He
accordingly took position on the north side of Waxhaw Creek, where he
was joined by Major Crawford, with a few South Carolina troops and
thirty-five Indian warriors of the Catawba tribe, under their chief,
New River, and the Mecklenburg militia under Colonel Hagins.
On the 20th of July Major Davie surprised and captured at Flat Rock, a
convoy of provisions, spirits and clothing, guarded by some dragoons
and volunteers, on their way to the post at Hanging Rock, about four
and a half miles distant. The capture was effected without loss; the
spirits, provisions and wagons were destroyed, and the prisoners,
mounted on the captured horses and guarded by dragoons under Captain
William Polk, at dark commenced their retreat. On Beaver Creek, about
midnight, they were attacked by the enemy in ambuscade, concealed
under the fence in a field of standing corn. The rear guard had
entered the lane when Captain Petit, the officer in advance, hailed
the British in their place of concealment. A second challenge was
answered by a volley of musketry from the enemy, which commenced on
the right, and passed by a running fire to the rear of the detachment.
Major Davie rode rapidly forward and ordered the men to push through
the lane; but, under surprise, his troops turned back, and upon the
loaded arms of the enemy. He was thus compelled to repass the
ambuscade under a heavy fire, and overtook his men retreating by the
same road they had advanced. The detachment was finally rallied and
halted upon a hill, but so discomfited at this unexpected attack that
no effort could induce them to charge upon the enemy.
A judicious retreat was the only course left to avoid a similar
disaster, which was effected; and Major Davie, having passed the
enemy's patrols, regained his camp early on the next day without
further accident. In this attack, the fire of the enemy fell chiefly
upon those in the lane, who were prisoners (confined two on a horse
with the guard). These were nearly all killed, or severely wounded. Of
the Whigs, Lieutenant Elliott was killed, and Captain Petit, who had
been sent in advance by Major Davie to examine the lane, the ford of
the creek and the houses, and failing to do so, as carefully as was
proper, paid the penalty of neglect of duty by being wounded with two
of his men. Major Davie, who was noted for his vigilance, anticipated
some attempt by the British and Tories to recover the prisoners, and
had taken, as he believed, all necessary precautions to prevent a
surprise or ambuscade.
Major Davie, in a manuscript account of this affair, now on file in
the archives of the Historical Society at Chapel Hill, leaves this
"It furnishes a lesson to officers of partisan corps, that
every officer of a detachment may, at some time, have its
safety and reputation committed to him, and that the
slightest neglect of duty is generally severely punished by
Rocky Mount is on the west bank of the Wateree River (as the Catawba
is called after its junction with Wateree Creek), thirty miles from
Camden, and was garrisoned by Colonel Turnbull with one hundred and
fifty New York volunteers and some militia. Its defences consisted of
two log-houses, a loop-holed building and an _abattis_.[J]
On the 30th of July, 1780, General Sumter and Colonel Neal, from South
Carolina, and Colonel Irwin, with three hundred Mecklenburg militia,
joined Major Davie. A council was held, and it was determined that
simultaneous attacks should be made upon the British posts at Rocky
Mount and Hanging Rock. General Sumter was accompanied by Colonels
Neal, Irwin and Lacy, and Captain McLure, and some of his kinsmen, the
Gastons. Having; crossed the Catawba at Blair's Ford, he arrived early
on the next day, and made vigorous attacks against the fort, but
failed in capturing it, mainly for the want of artillery. The attack
elicited the praise of even the enemy. Early in the action, the
gallant Colonel Neal was killed, with five whites and one Catawba
Indian, and many were severely wounded. The British loss was ten
killed, and the same number wounded. General Sumter ordered a retreat,
which was effected without further annoyance or loss.
Major Davie, with about forty mounted riflemen, and the same number of
dragoons, and some Mecklenburg militia, under Colonel Hagins,
approached Hanging Rock on the same day. While he was reconnoitering
the ground, previous to making the attack, he was informed that three
companies of Bryan's Tory regiment, returning from a foraging
expedition, were encamped at a farmhouse near the post.
Major Davie, with his brave associates, immediately fell upon them
with vigor, both in front and rear, and all but a few of them were
either killed or wounded. No time could be spared to take prisoners,
as the engagement at the farm-house was in full view of the British
post at Hanging Rock. The fruits of this victory were sixty valuable
horses, and one hundred muskets and rifles. The whole camp of the
enemy instantly beat to arms, but this brilliant affair was ended, and
Davie out of reach before the enemy's forces were in motion, or their
consternation subsided from this daring and successful attack. Major
Davie reached his camp safely without the loss of a single man.
General Sumter was thoroughly convinced that the ardent patriots of
which his command consisted must be kept constantly employed, and that
the minds of such men are greatly influenced by dashing exploits. He,
therefore, resolved to unite with Major Davie and other officers, and
make a vigorous attack against the post of Hanging Rock. This post
derives its name from a huge conglomerate bowlder of granite,
twenty-five or thirty feet in diameter, lying upon the eastern bank of
Hanging Rock Creek, with a concavity sufficiently large to shelter
fifty men from the rain, Near this natural curiosity Lord Rawdon, then
commanding the British and Tories in that section, had established a
post, garrisoned by Tarleton's Legion of infantry, a part of Brown's
Corps of South Carolina and Georgia Provincials, and Colonel Bryan's
North Carolina Loyalists, the whole under the command of Major Carden.
BATTLE OF THE HANGING ROCK.
"Catawba's waters smiled again
To see her Sumter's soul in arms!
And issuing from each glade and glen,
Rekindled by war's fierce alarms,
Thronged hundreds through the solitude
Of the wild forests, to the call
Of him whose spirit, unsubdued,
Fresh impulse gave to each, to all."
On the 5th of August, 1780, the detachments of the patriots met again
at Land's Ford, on the Catawba. Major Davie had not lost a single man
in his last dashing exploit. The North Carolina militia, under Colonel
Irwin and Major Davie, numbered about five hundred men, officers and
privates; and about three hundred South Carolinians under Colonels
Sumter, Lacey and Hill. The chief command was conferred upon Colonel
Sumter, as being the senior officer. Early in the morning, Colonel
Sumter marched cautiously, and approached the British camp in three
divisions, with the intention of falling upon the main body stationed
at Cole's Old Field. The right was composed of Major Davie's corps,
and some volunteers, under Major Bryan; the center, of the Mecklenburg
militia, under Colonel Irwin; and the left, of South Carolina
refugees, under Colonel Hill. General Sumter proposed that the
detachments should approach in their divisions, march directly to the
centre encampments, then dismount, and each division attack its camp.
This plan was approved by all except Major Davie, who insisted on
leaving their horses at their present position, and march to the
attack on foot. He urged, as an objection against the former plan, the
confusion always consequent upon dismounting under fire, and the
certainty of losing the effect of a sudden and vigorous attack. He
was, however, over-ruled, but the sequel proved he was right in his
opinion. Through the error of his guides, Sumter came first upon
Bryan's corps, on the western bank of the creek, half a mile from the
British camp. Colonel Irwin's Mecklenburg militia, commenced the
attack. The Tories soon yielded, and fled toward the main body, many
of them throwing away their arms without discharging them. These the
patriots secured; and, pursuing this advantage, Sumter next fell upon
Brown's corps, which, by being concealed in a wood, poured in a heavy
fire upon the Americans. The latter also quickly availed themselves of
the trees and bushes, and returned the British fire with deadly
effect. The American riflemen, taking deliberate aim, soon cut off all
of Brown's officers and many of his soldiers; and at length, after a
fierce conflict, his corps yielded, and dispersed in confusion. The
arms and ammunition procured from the enemy were of great service, for
when the action commenced, Sumter's men had not two rounds each.
Now was the moment to strike for decisive victory; it was lost by the
criminal indulgence of Sumter's men in plundering the portion of the
British camp already secured, and drinking too freely of the liquor
found there. Sumter's ranks became disordered, and while endeavoring
to bring order out of confusion, the enemy rallied. Of his six hundred
men only about two hundred, with Major Davie's cavalry, could be
brought into immediate action. Colonel Sumter, however, was not to be
foiled. With his small number of patriots he rushed forward, with a
shout, to the attack. The enemy had formed a hollow square, with the
field pieces in front, and in this position received the charge. The
Americans attacked them on three sides, and for a while the contest
was severe. At length, just as the British line was yielding, a
reinforcement under Captains Stewart and McDonald, of Tarleton's
Legion, made their appearance, and their number being magnified,
Colonel Sumter deemed it prudent to retreat.
All this was done about mid-day, but the enemy had been so severely
handled that they did not attempt a pursuit. A small party appeared
upon the Camden road, but were soon dispersed by Davie's cavalry.
Could Sumter have brought all of his forces into action in this last
attack, the rout of the British would have been complete. As it was,
"He beat them back! beneath the flame
Of valor quailing, or the shock!
He carved, at last, a heroe's name,
Upon the glorious Hanging Rock!"
This engagement lasted about four hours, and was one of the
best-fought battles between militia and British regulars during the
war. Sumter's loss was twelve killed and forty-one wounded. Among the
killed were the brave Colonel McLure (lately promoted to that rank),
of South Carolina, and Captain Reid, of North Carolina; Colonel Hill,
Captain Craighead, Major Winn, Lieutenants Crawford and Fletcher, and
Ensign McLure were wounded.
Colonel McLure, being mortally wounded, was conveyed under the charge
of Davie's cavalry to Charlotte. He lingered until the 18th of August,
on which day he died in Liberty Hall Academy. "Of the many brave men,"
said General Davie, "with whom it was my fortune to become acquainted
in the army, he was one of the bravest; and when he fell we looked
upon his loss as incalculable."
The British loss was much greater than that of the Americans,
sixty-two of Tarleton's Legion were killed and wounded. Bryan's
regiment of Loyalists also suffered severely.
Major Davie's corps suffered much while tying their horses and forming
into line under a heavy fire from the enemy, a measure which he had
reprobated in the council when deciding on the mode of attack.
Having conveyed his wounded to a hospital in Charlotte, which his
foresight had provided, Major Davie hastened to the general rendezvous
at Rugely's Mill, under General Gates. On the 16th of August, while on
his way to unite his forces with those of General Gates, he met a
soldier in great speed, about ten miles from Camden. He arrested him
as a deserter, but soon learned from him that Gates was signally
defeated by the British on that day.
Major Davie then retraced his steps and took post at Charlotte. On the
5th of September, he was appointed by Governor Nash, Colonel
Commandant of Cavalry, with instructions to raise a regiment. He
succeeded in raising only a part, and with two small companies,
commanded by Major George Davidson, he took post at Providence.
On the 21st day of September, Colonel Davie attacked a body of Tories
at the plantation of Captain Wahab (now written Walkup), in the
southwestern corner of Union county (then a part of Mecklenburg),
killed fifteen or twenty of their men, wounded about forty, and
retreated in good order without any loss. In this dashing exploit,
Davie brought off ninety-six horses, one hundred and twenty stands of
arms, and reached his camp the same evening, after riding sixty miles
in less than twenty-four hours.
Generals Sumner and Davidson, with their brigades of militia, reached
his camp in Providence on the same evening. On the advance of the
British army these officers retreated by way of Phifer's to Salisbury,
ordering Colonel Davie, with about one hundred and fifty men, and some
volunteers under Major Joseph Graham, to hover around the approaching
enemy, annoy his foraging parties, and skirmish with his light troops.
On the night of the 25th of September, Colonel Davie entered the town
of Charlotte, determined to give the British army, which lay a few
miles from that place, a _hornets-like reception_. The brilliancy and
patriotic spirit of that skirmish was appropriately displayed on the
very ground which, in May, 1775, was the birth-place American
independence. (See "Skirmish at Charlotte.")
On the next day, Colonel Davie joined the army at Salisbury, where the
men and officers to raise new recruits had assembled. Generals
Davidson and Sumner continued their retreat beyond the Yadkin River,
while Colonel Davie returned to Charlotte, around which place the
activity of his movements, dashing adventures, and perfect knowledge
of the country, rendered him extremely useful in checking the
incursions of the enemy, repressing the Tories and encouraging the
friends of liberty.
Lord Cornwallis sorely felt the difficulties with which his position
at Charlotte was surrounded, and, on hearing of the defeat and death
of Colonel Ferguson, one of his favorite officers, he left that town
late on the evening of the 14th of October, in great precipitation,
recrossed the Catawba at Land's Ford, and took position, for a few
months, at Winnsboro, S.C.
The signal defeat of the British and Tories at King's Mountain--the
conspicuous turning point of success in the American Revolution, and
the retreat of Cornwallis, after his previous boast of soon having
North Carolina under royal subjection, greatly revived the hopes of
the patriots throughout the entire South.
General Smallwood, of Maryland, who had accompanied General Gates to
the South, had his headquarters at Providence, and, in a short time,
several thousand militia, under Generals Davidson, Sumner, and Jones,
joined his camp. Colonel Davie, with three hundred mounted infantry,
occupied an advanced post at Land's Ford.
When General Greene took command of the Southern Army in December,
1780, he and Colonel Davie met for the first time. The Commissary
Department having become vacant by the resignation of Colonel Thomas
Polk, General Greene prevailed upon Colonel Davie to accept this
troublesome and important office. Although the duties of the office
would prevent him from displaying that dashing patriotism so congenial
to his chivalric spirit, yet he agreed to enter upon its arduous and
Colonel Davie accompanied General Greene in his rapid retreat from the
Catawba to the Dan River. He was present at the battle of Guilford, in
March, 1781; at Hobkirk's Hill, in April; at the evacuation of Camden,
in May; and at the siege of Ninety-six, in June.
The war, having ended, Colonel Davie retired to private life and his
professional pursuits. He took his first circuit in February, 1783,
and near this time he married Sarah, eldest daughter of General Allen
Jones, of Northampton county, and located himself at Halifax
Courthouse, where he soon rose to the highest eminence in his
Colonel Davie was a member of the Convention which met at
Philadelphia, in May, 1787, to form the Federal Constitution. The late
Judge Murphy, in speaking of Colonel Davie, bears this honorable
testimony to his abilities:
"I was present in the House of Commons, when Davie addressed
that body (in 1789,) for a loan of money to erect the
buildings of the University, and, although more than thirty
years have elapsed, I have the most vivid recollections of
the greatness of his manner and the power of his eloquence
upon that occasion. In the House of Commons he had no rival,
and on all questions before that body his eloquence was
In December, 1798, he was elected Governor of the State. After
fulfilling other important National and State trusts, and losing his
estimable wife in 1803, Colonel Davie, under the increasing
infirmities of old age, sought retirement. In 1805 he removed to
Tivoli, his country seat, near Land's Ford, in South Carolina, where
he died, in 1820, in the sixty-fourth year of his age. He had six
children: 1. Hyder Ali, who married Elizabeth Jones, of Northampton
county, N.C.; 2. Sarah Jones, who married William F. Desaussure, of
Columbia, S.C.; 3. Mary Haynes; 4. Martha; 5. Rebecca; 6. Frederick
GENERAL MICHAEL MCLEARY.
General Michael McLeary was born in 1762. He first entered the service
as a private in Captain William Alexander's company, in the regiment
commanded by Colonel Robert Irwin, William Hagins, Lieutenant Colonel,
and James Harris, Major. The regiment was encamped on Coddle Creek,
near which time Colonel William Davidson, a Continental officer, was
appointed to the command of a battalion. In a short time afterward,
his command marched to Ramsour's Mill, to disperse a large body of
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