A history of Rowan County, North Carolina

In republishing the Rumple History of Rowan County, the Elizabeth Maxwell Steele Chapter, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, has accomplished a twofold purpose, namely: "the encouragement of historical research, and the publication of its results." In fulfilling these primary objects of the Society, it has also furthered the ulterior aim of both editor and author, whose advocacy of these same objects ten years prior to the organization of the National Society made this little book possible.

By these recorded "facts of history, biography, and achievement," supplemented by priceless data gleaned from old documents, manuscripts, local tradition, and the personal recollections of many who have since been gathered to their fathers, the author has rendered an inestimable service not only to the Rowan County of today, but the territory occupied by forty-five counties formed from this venerable mother, which when erected comprehended most of the western part of the State, and Tennessee.

Printed weekly from the galley proofs of the current newspaper article, on common material, and filed away to be later bound into book form, the first edition was of necessity limited, and was exhausted years ago. In presenting the second edition, the publishers hope to supply a long-felt want. The contents have not been built anew; in a few instances only, supplemental facts have been incorporated, and the past linked with the present through the medium of a limited number of photographs. In consideration of the ample domain formerly covered by Rowan County, its history is the common heritage of the people of Western North Carolina and a vast number of her sons and daughters who have made homes in other States particularly those of the ^Middle West.
A copy of this little volume owned by the writer is thus autographed by its late beloved author: "'History is Philosophy teaching by example.' So said one who deeply pondered the import of his words. If we would be wise and good, we should learn the best methods from the example of those who have gone before us." Primarily, the mission of this work was to rescue from oblivion the history of Rowan, and to preserve and perpetuate the honorable records of her citizens ; and incidentally promote an intelligent interest in the early development of the County, and a more thorough knowledge of the first settlers peaceable, industrious, and law-abiding men "composed of almost all the nations of Europe," who came to make homes for themselves and children; "men and women who had suffered for conscience' sake, or fled from despotism to seek liberty and happiness unrestrained by the shackles of a wornout civilization." Intolerant of tyranny, yet characteristically conservative when constrained to act, they were invincible! No people has a fairer and broader historic background, as yet almost unexplored. "Ill fares it with a State whose history is written by others than her own sons!"

Is it vain to hope that some one, among "the lineal descendants and present-day representatives of an illustrious dead" kindled afresh by the holy fires of patriotism and pride of race will arise phoenix-like from the ashes of our indifference, and write the noble annals of our State? "Earlier colonized in point of history, full of glorious examples of patriotism and chivalric daring, North Carolina has been neglected by her own sons and others." Too long have we felt the opprobrium of this neglect.

To those who have countenanced this effort, and to the friends who have rendered valuable assistance both by suggestion and contribution, many thanks are due. Should but one reader cease to be a "mute inglorious Milton," and sing inspiredly of the valor and glory of our forebears, then your support and this little book shall not have been in vain.

 

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This little book is an accident. While engaged in collecting material for another purpose, the writer was led to examine the early records preserved in the Courthouse in Salisbury, and in the course of his investigation happened upon a number of things that appeared to be of general interest. Mentioning this fact casually to the editor of the Carolina Watchman, the writer was asked to embody these items of interest in a few articles for that newspaper. This led to additional research, and to the accumulation of a pile of notes and references that gave promise of a dozen or more articles. These the editor thought should be printed in a pamphlet of fifty or a hundred small pages for preservation, and he began at once to print off a few hundred copies from the type used in the news- paper. As the work went on, other facts were gathered from traditions, from family records, and from the pages of books written about North Carolina, such as the Histories and Sketches of Hawks, Caruthers, Foote, Bancroft, Wheeler, Lawson, Byrd, Jones, Wiley, Moore, Hunter, Bernheim, Gillett, and from miscellaneous diaries, periodicals, and manuscripts. These were intended to furnish a frame for the picture of Old Rowan, and sidelights that it might be seen to advantage. And thus the little pamphlet has swollen to its present proportions. It was written in installments from week to week, amid the incessant demands of regular professional duty, and without that care and revision that might have saved it from some infelicities of style or obscurities of expression. Both the writer and the publisher would have been glad to have expended more time and care upon the work, so as to render it more worthy of the noble County whose annals it is intended to recover and perpetuate. Still it is believed that very few serious errors have been made. Local traditions have been compared with general history, and have been found to coincide wherever they came in contact.

The writer has been indebted to a number of persons for the facts which he has recorded. Miss Christine Beard, a granddaughter of John Lewis Beard, and of John Dunn, Esq. now eighty years of age, with a remarkably retentive memory has furnished personal recollections of the Town of Salisbury, covering seventy years. She has also treasured up the stories heard in her youth from the lips of her ancestors, running back to the first settlement of the County. Messrs. J.M. Horah and H.N. Woodson, the Clerk and the Register, kindly gave access to the old records in the Courthouse, dating back to 1753. John S. Henderson, Esq., Rev. S. Rothrock, Rev. H.T. Hudson, D.D., Rev. J.J. Renn, Rev. J.B. Boone, Rev. J. Ingle, Rufus Barringer, Esq., Dr. D.B. Wood, M.L. McCorkle, Esq., Mrs. N. Boyden, and others, have either prepared papers in full, or furnished documents and manuscript statements that have been of special service. Mrs. P.B. Chambers furnished the diary of her grandfather, Waightstill Avery, Esq. Col. W.L. Saunders, Secretary of State, and Col. J. McLeod Turner, Keeper of the State Capitol, very kindly furnished, free of charge, a copy of the Roll of Honor of the Rowan County soldiers in the Confederate Army. The revision and completion of this Roll was superintended by Mr. C.R. Barker, who bestowed great care and much time upon this work. Many thanks are due to all these persons. In fact, it has been a labor of love, without hope of pecuniary reward, with the Author, and all those who have contributed to this performance. With these statements, the little book is sent forth, with the hope that it will be of some service to the citizens of North Carolina, and especially to the people of Rowan.