Collection: Sketches Of Western North Carolina Historical And Biographical

Biographical Sketch of John G. Jack

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...

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Biographical Sketch of Churchill Jack

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...

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Biography of Richmond Pearson

Richmond Pearson, late of Davie county when a part of Rowan, was born in Dinwiddie county, Va., in 1770, and at the age of nineteen years came to North Carolina and settled in the forks of the Yadkin river. When the war of the Revolution broke out he was a Lieutenant in Captain Bryan’s company (afterward the celebrated Colonel Bryan, of Tory memory). After the Declaration of Independence, at the first muster which occurred, he requested some on whom he could rely to load their guns. When Captain Bryan came on the ground he ordered all the men into ranks. Pearson refused, and tendered his commission to Bryan, whereupon he ordered him under arrest. This was resisted, and he was told that the men had their guns loaded. They then came to a parley, and it was agreed by the crowd, as matters stood, that Bryan and Pearson, on a fixed day, should settle this national affair by a fair “fist fight”, and whichever whipped, the company should belong to the side of the conqueror, whether Whig or Tory. At the appointed time and place the parties met, and the Lieutenant proved to be the victor. From this time the Fork company was for liberty, and Bryan’s crowd, on Dutchman’s creek, were Loyalists. The anecdote illustrates by what slight circumstances events of this period were affected. When Cornwallis came...

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Biography of Hon. Archibald Henderson

Hon. Archibald Henderson was born in Granville county, N.C., on the 7th of August, 1768; studied law with Judge Williams, his relative, and was pronounced by the late Judge Murphy, who knew him long and well, to be “the most perfect model of a lawyer that our bar has produced.” … No man could look upon him without pronouncing him one of the great men of the age. The impress of greatness was upon his countenance; not that greatness which is the offspring of any single talent or moral quality, but a greatness which is made up by blending the faculties of a fine intellect with exalted moral feelings. Although he was at all times accessible and entirely free from austerity, he seemed to live and move in an atmosphere of dignity. He exacted nothing by his manner, yet all approached him with reverence and left him with respect. His was the region of high sentiment; and here he occupied a standing that was pre-eminent in North Carolina. He contributed more than any man, since the time of General Davie and Alfred Moore, to give character to the bar of the State. His career at the bar has become identified with the history of North Carolina: and his life and his example furnish themes for instruction to gentlemen of the bench and to his brethren of the bar. May...

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Biography of Mrs. Elizabeth Steele

The long, arduous and eventful retreat of General Morgan through the Carolinas, after the battle of the Cowpens, and the eager pursuit of Cornwallis to overtake him, encumbered with more than five hundred prisoners, on his way to a place of safety in Virginia, affords many interesting incidents. General Greene having met Morgan on the eastern banks of the Catawba river, at Sherrill’s Ford, and directed his forward movements, proceeded to Salisbury, a little in advance of his forces. It had been slightly raining during the day, and his wet garments, appearance of exhaustion and dejection of spirits at the loss of General Davidson at Cowan’s Ford, as he dismounted at the door of the principal hotel in Salisbury, indicated too clearly that he was suffering under harassing anxiety of mind. Dr. Reed, who had charge of the sick and wounded prisoners, while he waited for the General’s arrival, was engaged in writing the necessary paroles for such officers as could not go on. General Greene’s aids having been dispatched to different parts of the retreating army, he was alone when he rode up to the hotel. Dr. Reed, noticing his dispirited looks, remarked that he appeared to be fatigued; to which the wearied officer replied: “Yes, fatigued, hungry, alone, and penniless!” General Greene had hardly taken his seat at the well-spread table, when Mrs. Steele, the landlady of...

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Biography of General Griffith Rutherford

General Griffith Rutherford was an Irishman by birth, brave and patriotic, but uncultivated in mind and manners. He resided west of Salisbury, in the Locke settlement, and actively participated in the internal government of the county, associated with such early and distinguished patriots as Moses Winslow, Alexander Osborn, Samuel Young, John Brevard, James Brandon, William Sharpe, Francis McCorkle, and others. He represented Rowan county in the Provincial Congress which met at Halifax on the 4th of April, 1776, and during this session he received the appointment of Brigadier General of the “Salisbury District.” Near the close of the summer of 1776, he raised and commanded an army of two thousand four hundred men against the Cherokee Indians. After being reinforced by the Guilford Regiment, under Colonel James Martin, and by the Surry Regiment under Colonel Martin Armstrong, at Fort McGahey, General Rutherford crossed the “Blue Ridge,” or Alleghany mountains, at Swannanoa Gap, near the western base of which the beautiful Swannanoa river (“nymph of beauty”) takes its rise. After reaching the French Broad he passed down and over that stream at a crossing-place which to this day bears the name of the “War Ford.” He then passed up the valley of “Hominy Creek,” leaving Pisgah Mountain on the left, and crossed Pigeon River a little below the mouth of East Fork. He then passed through the mountains to Richland...

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Biography of 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, and imprisoned. 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...

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Biography of Henry Hunter

Henry Hunter was born in the county of Derry, Ireland, on the 11th of August, 1751. About the time he became of age, he married Martha Sloan, and, after remaining a little upwards of one year longer in Ireland, he emigrated to America, and landed at Charleston, S.C., after a long and boisterous voyage of thirteen weeks. After reaching the shores of the New World, to which his fond anticipations of superior civil and religious privileges had anxiously turned, on surveying his situation, grim poverty stared him in the face; for, his stock of cash on hand was just “one silver half dollar.” Yet, being raised to habits of industry, he did not despair, feeling assured that, “where there is a “will” there is a “way”” to act in earnest, and battle against the adverse fortunes of life. Finding in Charleston a wagon from North Carolina, he made suitable arrangements with its owner, and accompanied it on its return to Mecklenburg county, whither his mother and four brothers had emigrated several years before, and settled in the neighborhood of Poplar Tent Church. Here, by strict economy, and persevering industry, he was prospered as a farmer; blest in his “basket and his store,” and soon enabled to purchase a comfortable homestead for himself and his rising family. When the war of the Revolution broke out, being deeply imbued from childhood...

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Biography of 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...

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Biographical Sketch of Robert Kerr

Robert Kerr, a soldier of the Revolution, was born in December, 1750, in Chester county, Pennsylvania, and came to North Carolina with his parents when only three years old. He first entered the service in 1776, in Captain John McKnitt Alexander’s company, in the expedition, General Rutherford commanding, against the Cherokee Indians, then severely molesting the frontier settlements. In 1778, he was drafted into Captain John Brownfield’s company, Colonel Frances Locke’s regiment, and marched by way of Camden, to the defence of Charleston. After his return, he served under the same officers in the battle of Ramsour’s Mill, in Lincoln county. When Cornwallis was in Charlotte in 1780, he served under Captain James Thompson, the gallant leader of the Spartan band against the foraging party at McIntire’s farm, seven miles from Charlotte, on the Beattie’s Ford road. In December, 1780, he joined the company of Captain John Sharpe, at which time, General Davidson, with his accustomed vigilance and activity, announced that all who would then promptly volunteer for six weeks, such service should stand for a three months tour. On this occasion he volunteered, and served under Captain William Henry. After the death of General Davidson at Cowan’s Ford, he was placed in Colonel Locke’s regiment, General Pickens commanding, which forces were ordered to harass and impede the march of Cornwallis to Guilford Court House. This was his last...

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Biographical Sketch of Dan Alexander

“Dan Alexander”, who moved to Hardeman county, Tenn., was born in Mecklenburg county, in March, 1757. He first entered the service in 1778, for three months, in Captain William Alexander’s company, (commonly called “Black Bill Alexander,”) and Colonel Irwin’s regiment. In 1780, he served under Captain Thomas Alexander to assist in guarding the public magazine in Charlotte. In this same year he served in the expedition to Ramsour’s Mill, under General Rutherford, and afterward, against Tories assembled in the forks of the Yadkin river, captured several and conveyed them to Salisbury jail. Soon afterward, he joined the command of Colonel Davie, and marched in the direction of Camden, S.C. Near the South Carolina line, they met Gates’ retreating army. He represented Gates as “wearing a “pale blue coat, with epaulettes, velvet breeches, and riding a bay horse”.” Colonel Davie’s command returned, and encamped ten miles north of the Court House. His last important service was in forming one of the party dispatched by Colonel McCall to surprise a guard of eighteen British grenadiers, stationed at Hart’s Mill, near Hillsboro. The movement was successful; several were killed, six made prisoners, and one escaped in the creek. “William Alexander”, of Rowan county, entered the service in 1776, and marched under General Rutherford’s command against the Cherokee Indians, and in that expedition (Sept. 8th,) was wounded in the foot at the “Seven...

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Biographical Sketch of John Alexander

“John Alexander”, son of James Alexander, was in active service for upwards of five years. He was the husband of Mrs. Susanna Alexander, long known and highly esteemed in Mecklenburg county as the ministering angel, who was eminently instrumental in saving the life of Captain Joseph Graham, after he was cut down by the British cavalry, near Sugar Creek Church, and left by them, supposed to be dead. She found him by the roadside, conducted him to her house, dressed his wounds, made by ball and sabre, and tenderly cared for him during the night. On the next day, his symptoms becoming more favorable, she conveyed him to his mother’s, about four miles distant, “on her own pony”. Her husband died in 1805. In 1846, when eighty-six years of age, and in needy circumstances, she was granted a pension by the General Government, in behalf of her husband’s military services, and lived to be nearly one hundred years old, enjoying the kind regard and veneration of all who knew...

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Biography of Captain Charles Alexander

Captain Charles Alexander was born in Mecklenburg county, N.C., January 4th, 1753. He first entered the service of the United States as a private in July, 1775, in the company of Captain William Alexander, and Colonel Adam Alexander’s regiment, General Rutherford commanding, and marched across the Blue Ridge Mountains against the Cherokee Indians. The expedition was completely successful; the Indians were routed, and their towns destroyed. He next served as a private for two months, commencing in January, 1776, known as the “Snow Campaign,” in Captain William Alexander’s company, and Colonel Thomas Folk’s regiment, and marched to Rayburn’s creek, where the Tories were dispersed. In one of the skirmishes, William Polk was wounded in the shoulder. In October, 1776, he again served under the same Captain, and in Colonel Caldwell’s regiment, but the command of the regiment during this tour of duty, was under Major Thomas Harris, who marched to Camden, S.C., and remained there about three months. In 1776, he served in the cavalry company of Captain Charles Polk, who marched to Fort Johnson, near the mouth of Cape Fear river, Colonel Thomas Polk commanding. He again served as a private in 1778, in the company of Captain William Gardner and Lieutenant Stephen Alexander, General Rutherford commanding, who marched to Purysburg, S.C., and there joined the regulars under General Lincoln, at a camp called the “Black Swamp.” In...

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Biography of Major Thomas Alexander

Major Thomas Alexander, born in 1753, was one of the earliest and most unwavering patriots of Mecklenburg county. He first entered the service in 1775, as a private, in Captain John Springs’ company, and marched to the head of the Catawba river, to assist in protecting the frontier settlements, then greatly suffering from the murderous and depredating incursions of the Cherokee Indians. In 1775 he also volunteered in Captain Ezekiel Polk’s company, and marched against the Tories assembled at the post of Ninety, in South Carolina. In 1776 he volunteered in Captain William Alexander’s company, under Colonels Adam Alexander and Robert Irwin, General Rutherford commanding, and marched to the Quaker Meadows, at the head of the Catawba, and thence across the Blue Ridge to the Cherokee country. Having severely chastised the Indians and compelled them to sue for peace, the expedition returned. In 1779, he volunteered under Captain William Polk and marched to South Carolina, to subdue the Tories on Wateree River. Soon after this service he was appointed captain of a company to guard the magazine in Charlotte, which, on the approach of Cornwallis, in September, 1780, was removed to a place of safety on the evening before his Lordship’s arrival. After Cornwallis left Charlotte, Captain Alexander raised a company of mounted men to guard the Tuckasege Ford. He occupied this position until it was known Cornwallis had...

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Biographical Sketch of Elijah Alexander

Elijah Alexander, son of William Alexander, blacksmith, was born in Mecklenburg county, N.C., in 1760. In 1819, he moved to Maury county, Tenn., where he died at a good old age. In March, 1780, Colonel Thomas Polk called out detachments from the nearest companies of militia to serve as a guard over the public powder placed in the magazine in Charlotte. He then volunteered for three months under Captain Thomas Alexander. After Cornwallis crossed the Catawba River at Cowan’s Ford, on the 1st of February, 1781, at which place General Davidson was killed, a call was made for more men to harass the progress of the British army. For this purpose, a rendezvous was made at the “Big Rock” in Cabarrus county, under Colonel William Polk, Major James Harris and Captain Brownfield. At this time, the small-pox broke out in camp, from the effects of which Moses Alexander, a brother of Governor Nathaniel Alexander, died. After the battle of Guilford, on the 15th of March, 1781, General Greene returned to South Carolina to recover full possession of the State. He then joined his army under Captain James Jack (the bearer of the Mecklenburg Declaration to Congress in 1775) and in Colonel Thomas Polk’s regiment. The command marched from Charlotte, along the “Lawyer’s Road,” to Matthew Stewart’s, on Goose Creek, and thence towards Camden, to fall in with General Greene’s...

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