BEFORE THOMASVILLE, WHAT?
What was happening in the area that is now
Thomasville Township from the time the County was formed (1822) until
Thomasville was founded (1852) and Thomasville Township of Davidson County was set
up (1868)? Was it a wooded area or a farming area? Did the inhabitants
participate in county government? What about schools, churches and industries?
Old maps show that there were two main roads
leading through the area -the Old Greensboro Road roughly paralleling the
present northern and western boundary of the present township and the Old
Raleigh Road near the southern and eastern boundary. From deeds and hearsay it
is found that there were crossroads, some no more than "pig paths, "
joining these two main roads, and one road, at least in the latter part of the
period, from Lexington to the Thomasville area. The MacRae-Brazier North
Carolina Map of 1833 shows only four post offices in Davidson County, of which
Fair Grove was the only one in this township area.
When the map was made, Fair Grove had long been a
thriving settlement. In 1796 George Hoover, a Revolutionary War veteran, and
his wife, Margaret Hoover, bought from the estate of John Lewis Beard a
plantation, which they called "Deer's Lick," and built a home near
the present location of the Southgate Shopping Center. Margaret was the
daughter of John Lewis Beard, a wealthy landholder of Salisbury, and sister of
Michael Beard who in 1789 had bought some 80 acres of land and laid out lots
for the present city of Lexington. The children of George and Margaret Hoover
were: Christina, Elizabeth, George Jr., Charles, Felix and Valentine. Christina
married, first, Philip Mock of Abbotts Creek area and after his death, Joseph
Spurgeon, who as State Senator had introduced the bill to form Davidson County.
Charles Hoover after marriage lived on his plantation near Abbotts Creek. (A
more detailed account of his life will be given later in this article.) George
Hoover, Jr., moved to Asheboro and became a general in the militia there. Felix
Hoover, who married a daughter of Col. Frederick Goss, moved with his family to
Tennessee a few years after their marriage. Valentine Hoover inherited part of
his father's estate, including the home place, and was a leader in religious
and community affairs. He had two sons who were killed in the Civil War,
leaving no issue.
Elizabeth Hoover married David Mock who began buying
tracts of land in 1810 and continued until he had several hundred acres. It is
believed that he built and lived in the house that is now the residence of Mrs.
Robert Rothrock. He became a Justice of Davidson County's Court of Pleas and
Quarter Sessions, was elected the County's first clerk of the Court and was one
of the officials who implemented the act erecting the county. In 1835 and 1836
they sold their property to Nathan Kendall and moved to Missouri.
The deed for the 293 acres of land stated
"all that tract or, parcel of land and premises whereon I (that is, David
Mock) now reside." It bears the same description as deeds before 1821 to
David Mock. The house was remodeled in the mid nineteenth century when the roof
was changed and a fancy porch added. The interior retains the original Federal
mantels, doors, chair rails and wide boards in the walls and ceiling (visible
in the upstairs rooms) popular in the first quarter of the 19th century.
Charles Mock, son of David and Elizabeth, was also
for some- time Clerk of the Court. He acquired land from Joseph Spurgeon in
1831 and his mother's part in her father's estate in 1833, and built a large
brick house thereon. His wife early in January 1849 opened in their home Sylva
Grove Academy, the county's first boarding school for girls, and later built a
dormitory in the rear of their residence. Mr. Mock was also a nurseryman. In
1852 the Mocks sold their land and school to Dr. Charles F. Deems of Greensboro
College (who named it Glen Anna Female Seminary) and departed for California to
join Isaac Kinney who was already operating a nursery there. This Charles Mock
residence is now the impressive home of Mrs. G. E. Crowell and son John.
Soon after the George Hoovers came to Fair
Grove, another Revolutionary War veteran, Moses Lambeth of Craven County, moved
there. It is said that Moses Lambeth had admired the area while on the way home
from service in the army and later applied for a State grant. Through other
State grants and purchases, in a few years he amassed over a thousand acres of
land and several slaves. His friend, Lewis Tyer, came with him and purchased
land adjoining that of Moses. Later the son of Lewis Tyer married Elizabeth,
the daughter of Moses and Tabitha Loftin Lambeth, and lived nearby until about
1835 when they moved to Tennessee and later Mississippi. Two years after the
death of his wife, Moses, Levi Coggin and wife, Frances (another daughter of
Moses and Tabitha), followed the Tyers West.
Just when the house since 1902 called "Cedar
Lodge" was built is not known. The land originally belonged to Moses but
it is thought that John W. Thomas who early in 1818
married Polly (Mary), daughter of Moses and Tabitha Lambeth, may have built it.
The deed given in 1822 to John W. Thomas and Levi Coggin by Moses Lambeth
stated that the tract consisting of 384 acres included the home place whereon
Moses and Tabitha lived and reserved their lifetime right to it. At any rate,
in the large house still standing, John W. and Polly Thomas lived for many
years and there their twelve children were born and reared. Tradition has it
that John W. Thomas came there from Caswell County to prospect for gold. It is
known that from time to time he owned interest in several mines in the county~
one located on or near his plantation. For fifty years he was a dominant figure
in the Thomasville Township area. As State Representative for one term and as
State Senator for five terms, he made his voice heard on legislation relating
to the County and State.
1843-44 he was the first chairman of the County Board of Superintendents of
Common Schools. Later he was a leader in the financing and building of the
North Carolina Railroad, and he was the founder of Thomasville in 1852. Shortly
thereafter he built a large residence in the center of the town where he and
his family lived as leaders in the business, social, educational and religious
life of the community. One of his sons, Dr. Robert W., was a physician there
for over fifty years. Another son, P. C. Thomas, was a Representative to the
State General Assembly for one term and to the State Senate for two terms.
In July 1828 John W. Thomas was one of nine trustees
of Fair Grove Methodist Church to whom John Myres (sic) deeded a tract of four
acres. The other trustees were John Welborn, James Needham, Alson Gray, Isham
Nance, William Carroll, John Loftin, Amos Lambeth and David Mock. The name of
Fair Grove was presumably given be- cause the tract was beautifully wooded with
oaks and virgin pine and sufficiently elevated to give the church a commanding
position in the community. The name of the preacher who organized the church is
not known but there were two trustees who were also preachers-John Welborn
(1779-1830) and Alson Gray (1799-1881) - who might have started the movement.
The deed states that the house of worship to be erected on this land shall be
"for the use of the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the
United States of America. ..." In the division of the Methodists
into Methodist Episcopals and Methodist Protestants in 1830, both Welborn and
Gray went the Methodist Protestant way. John Welborn lived nearby in Randolph
County and is buried in the Prospect Church cemetery. Alson Gray had a circuit
of churches nearby in Randolph County, among which were Gray's Chapel, which he
founded and which was named for him, and Fairfield Church, near which he lived
and where he is buried. He participated in the founding of Yadkin College, at
one time served as its Dean, and endorsed the note for Jamestown Female
College, from which he suffered financial loss. An item in the Sept. 26, 1829, issue of the Greensborough
Patriot stated that the Rev. William N. Abbington, an itinerant preacher of
the Methodist Episcopal Church, formerly of Henry County, Virginia, died at the
residence of David Mock. It may be that this man who was buried in the Fair
Grove cemetery was one of the early preachers. At any rate, this is the oldest
known Methodist Church still in existence in the county and the center around
which all the religious life of the community revolved for many years. Its
growth was steady during the period from 1828 to 1868.
It is thought that John Loftin, another
trustee mentioned above, was a son-in-law of Moses Lambeth. John Loftin had
married Sally Lambeth in 1822 with James Tyer as witness. She may have been the
Sally, daughter of Moses and Tabitha Lambeth, listed in Rowan County Court
Minutes, 1804, but this has not been confirmed. However, records show that John
Loftin was very closely associated with the Lambeth family in many activities.
A family long prominent in the community was that of
Dr. Shadrach Lambeth who in 1835 or 1836 bought a plantation about a mile east
of Fair Grove Church and built a large brick house, with walls 18 inches thick,
which is still standing and now the home of the Mrs. Roxanna Shoaf family.
Shadrach was a nephew of Moses Lambeth; his wife Jane, a sister of John W.
Thomas. Their sister, Mary Thomas, who first
married Thomas Loftin and after his death Silas Lambeth, had already
moved to this community. (Her son, David Loftin, was prominent in county
affairs from the 1850's on; and served as Sheriff of Davidson County a total of
fourteen years; the longest tenure of any man to date.) Their sister Margaret
Thomas had married Amos Lambeth (also mentioned as trustee of Fair Grove) and
lived the remainder of her life near Fair Grove.
Dr. Shadrach Lambeth was an old-time herb doctor and
achieved local prominence as a "nerve curator." He
pledged the building one mile of the North Carolina Railroad, a
pledge he did not live to carry out but that (and it is said more mileage)
was built by his son, David Thomas Lambeth, and perhaps other sons. Dr.
Shadrack and Jane Thomas Lambeth were the parents of ten children. Of the only
three remained in this area long after marriage: Sarah Frances, who married
George Lines, Joseph Harrison, who inherited the home place but moved to
Thomasville after he returned from participation in} Civil War. He enlisted in
the army April 23, 1861, at Thomasville as 3rd Lieutenant Co. B., 14th Reg. N.
C. Infantry, and became a Major in December, 1862. Wounded in 1864 at
Winchester and taken: prisoner of war, he was paroled May 2, 1865. One of his
sons, Dr. William Alexander Lambeth, was a distinguished professor at the
University of Virginia for more than 35 years, teaching physical education, hygiene
and materia medica, and was author of books and articles on a wide range of
The third child of Dr. Shadrach Lambeth who remained
nearby was David Thomas Lambeth who married Caroline Eliza Simmons. The family
had moved to the Thomasville Township area so that their daughter might attend
Glen Anna Female Seminary. The David T. J. Lambeths had their first
home about one mile east of Fair Grove Church. Here their eleven children were
born and reared. In l886 the family moved to Thomasville where David T.
operated a general store. The sons, Franklin S., John W., and Robert L., and
son-in-law John R. Myers, were pioneer furniture
manufacturers. A grandson, Dr. William Arnold Lambeth (son of Franklin S.) was
for forty four years a prominent Methodist minister, then presiding elder, and
later district superintendent; another grandson, John Walter Lambeth, Jr. was
Eight District Representative to the United States Congress, Davidson County's
only native son to hold this office; other grandsons and granddaughters served
in important positions in the business, civic, educational and religious life
of the town.
Nathan Kendall, heretofore mentioned, was a large
landholder and also owned a saw and gristmill west of his home place. He leased
the mining rights on 46 acres of land to the Fair Grove Gold and Copper Mining
Company. Whether or not this operation was successful is not known. Kendall's
son-in-law, Professor I. L. Wright, husband of Cynthia, taught a school for
boys in the upstairs rooms of the Kendall-Wright home in the 1870's and 1880’s
.It was considered a good preparatory school for Old Trinity College, then
located some seven miles away. Some of the students became such pioneer
industrialists as Stuart Cramer, grandson of John W.
Thomas, who founded Cramerton; John W. Lambeth, son of David Thomas Lambeth,
mayor of Thomasville for seven years, postmaster, leader in public school and
good roads movements in the county; Charles M. Hoover, son of Captain P. A.
Hoover and great grandson of George Hoover, mayor of Thomasville, postmaster,
and sometime chairman of Davidson County Board of Commissioners.
In 1845 Absolom Bowers, Sol Secrest and Shadrach
Lambeth were the school committee for District Number Four which had 108
children of school age. While the name and location of the school were not
given in the county records of the day, this building was probably located on
or near the church grounds. The deed of 1828 to the church trustees mentions a
schoolhouse. It is known that for a number of years there was a public school
on the church land, which in addition to the Mock and Deems school for girls
and the Wright school for boys furnished a good educational opportunity for the
children of Fair Grove.
Although Joshua Lee lived in Conrad Hill Township near Light across the boundary line of present Thomasville Township, he was prominent in the community affairs around Fair Grove. His name is mentioned as trustee on mortgages of his neighbors there, as administrator of estates, as security for persons in positions of trust and as tax lister. Most important, he was a Justice of the county's first Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions. He is buried in the Fair Grove Church cemetery.
Among those closely connected with the Fair Grove
community but living for some years a few miles west on Hamby's Creek were
Roswell A. King-Tennent and his family. Mr. King-Tennent, as his headstone in
the church cemetery states, was born in Sharon, Connecticut, and his wife,
Theresa, was born in Belfast, Ireland. They met at a party in London and had
quite a romantic courtship. After their marriage in Ireland, they lived there
and in London for some years. His name at birth was Roswell A. King; his
father- in-law required him to add his surname Tennent in order to share in his
estate. When Mr. King, the father of Roswell A., wrote him in London about the
discovery of gold in North Carolina, Roswell A. and his family returned to
Connecticut and in 1829 came to Davidson County. There he leased many acres of
land on which he prospected and located several mines. In some of them he and
John W. Thomas were partners to their mutual profit. His residence on Hamby's
Creek (only recently torn down to make way for a super-highway) was a one and a
half story house typical of the period but small, considering his affluence. It
had, however, some interesting architectural features such as delicate, country
Federal mantels, small upstairs rooms with barrel-vaulted ceilings and
bookcases built into the house. It is said that his wife was unhappy living far
out in the country. After several years of residence there, they sold or traded
houses with Isaac and George Kinney. Later they bought a lot just across
present Center Street from the Courthouse in Lexington, built a store and
residence, where they lived the remainder of their lives.
Across Hamby's Creek from
his residence King-Tennent had operated a gold mill. During this time, too,
William and Addison Sullivan operated a saw and gristmill adjoining the end of
the "tail race of the gold mill." When George Kinney bought King-
Tennent's real estate, he also purchased from William Sullivan's heirs his part
of the saw and grist mill. The 1850 Census of Manufacturing shows that John L.
Sullivan and Kinney had saw mills in this section. As stated heretofore, Isaac
Kinney had gone to California to operate a nursery in partnership with Charles
Mock. Although this operation was apparently successful, as noted from his
letters and diary, he decided to return home and join his son George in the saw
and grist mill business, a nursery, farming and politics. For several years the
Kinney family lived in the house that was once the King-Tennent residence. It
was a busy place, with customers as well as politicians coming from all parts
of the county. Isaac Kinney was a Justice of the Davidson County Court of Pleas
and Quarter Sessions in 1823 and thereafter, a representative of the N. C.
General Assembly for one term, and a representative to the State Constitutional
Convention in 1868 (at the age of 79). His son George was also a Justice of the
Court and a representative to the General Assembly for one term as well as a
holder of numerous local offices.
Other families prominent in populating the section
of Thomasville Township south and west of Fair Grove usually lived out their
lives as hardworking, prosperous farmers. On their farms were woods for
building, heating and cooking and fields brought to an improved state of
cultivation. At one time this section was known as the Bowers Community because
it was first settled about 1755 by Jacob Bowers and his family. In 1813 John
Myers and his wife Elizabeth deeded three acres of land to the trustees (Philip
Kanoy, Jacob Myers, Sr., and John Bowers) of a church then known as Bowers
Meeting House. The deed states that Elizabeth Myers inherited the land from her
father, Jacob Bowers, then deceased, and that the land must be used for a place
of worship by both the "Presbyterians, Reformeds and Lutherians, German
Churches." John Bowers, trustee mentioned, was a brother of Elizabeth. As
was the custom in those days, the church building was also used as a
schoolhouse. After 1843 when the county began participation in the public
school program, a building bearing the name of Bowers School was located "
a few miles northwest of the church.
The church now housed in a handsome edifice is the
present Emanuel Reformed United Church of Christ, the Lutherans having sold
their share in the property some sixty years ago and joined with other groups
in building Grace Lutheran Church in Thomasville. The oldest record of members
is a list of 1845 given in a booklet en- titled A Century and a Quarter in a
Rural Church, a historical sketch of Emanuel Evangelical and Reformed
Church written in 1940. The names were: George Black, John Black, Elizabeth
Black, Samuel Black, Molly Black, Elizabeth Bowers, Eve Curry, David Curry, Esther
Curry, Rachael Conrad, Polly Fouts, Elizabeth Fouts, Christiana Fouts,
Magdalena B. Fouts, Absolom L. Grimes, Catherine Grimes, Catharine Hayworth,
Charlotte Lore, Sally Lore, Daniel Lore, Solomon Lore, Mary Lore, Lewis
Livengood, Phebe Livengood, David Myers, Catharine Myers, Michael Myers,
Susanna Myers, Andrew Myers, Sarah Myers, Polly Ann Myers, William Sullivan,
Margaret Sullivan, Diana Trotter. "There is a roll of 1849. The Church had
lost some. There were only 28 names, 6 less than in 1845. But there were 6
additional names of Colored Members enrolled. Four of these are by the name of
Grimes and two named Myers. It was the time of slavery. These members of the
church who owned slaves offered them the means of grace of their own church,
admitted them to their membership and communion, and taught them the Christian
Faith. Through all these years Emanuel has kept her doors open to the colored
race. The oldest member on the roll is Harriot Johnson, commonly known as Aunt
Harriot Grimes. She came to the home of Elder A. L. Grimes about the beginning
of the Civil War, united with the Church during the ministry of the Rev. P.
Allison Long, and has through all these years lived with the members of the
Grimes family. ..." (Quoted from booklet mentioned above, 1940) .In
Nora Chaffin's book, ~ Beginnings of Duke University, it is found that
Absolom Grimes had a saw mill on Hamby's Creek not far from Fair Grove where lumber
was sawed for the building of Union Institute at Trinity in 1839. It is
presumed that this was the same Absolom Grimes mentioned above and that he sold
this mill later to Nathan Kendall.
The children of the first Jacob Bowers in this
community were: George, John, Jacob Jr., Mary, David, Sarah, Elizabeth who
married John Myers, Caty who married John Clodfelter, and Barbara who married
John Sullivan. This generation and succeeding ones married into the Conrad,
Fritts, Kepley, Younts, Secrest, Grimes, Sink, Hepler, Lee, Lohr, Hedrick, Darr
and other families so that nearly all the oldest residents in that section were
related. Many of these have achieved prominence at home; some have gone to
other sections and other states. Two great grandsons of the first Jacob, Andrew
and Jacob Bowers, went to Texas when they were young men. Andrew amassed
several thousands of acres of real estate, owned some banks and oil wells and
wielded much political influence during his long life. Jacob, too, was an
outstanding citizen. Their descendants there are leaders in the business and
professional life of their communities.
Another descendant of the first Jacob Bowers, the
late Dr. Robert L. Fritts (or Fritz) became a professor and later president of
Lenoir-Rhyne College at Hickory, N. C. The late Dr. Marvin A. Bowers was a
prominent physician in Winston-Salem for many years. Charles Everett Kepley is
a financier in Roanoke, Virginia, who established a foundation at Lenoir-Rhyne
College in memory of his mother, a descendant of the first Jacob Bowers. The
late Dr. Liston Pope, longtime Dean of the School of Religion at Yale
University, author of books and editor of magazines, was also a direct
descendant, although Dr. Pope never lived in the Bowers Community.
Also coming from this community were three sons of
Hamilton and Tryphenia Myers Bowers: The Rev. David E. Bowers, a member of
Calvary Church who became a Reformed preacher and faithfully served until his
death nineteen years later, the Rev. Joshua L. Bowers who served first as a
Reformed preacher and later as a Presbyterian; Dr. Hill Bowers who was a
physician in Rowan County. John W. Bowers, Esq., lived all his life in this
community. He was a leader in church activities for fifty years, he married
more than 320 couples, buried the dead, conducted revivals, and taught in the
public schools for many years. At one time he" was vice president of the
Classis of the Reformed Church. The first minister Emanuel contributed to the
church was the Rev. Harvey Black, who served many years as pastor of churches
in Pennsylvania, is now retired and living in Thomasville.
After the death of her husband, Peter Lopp, Mary
Frank Lopp, his widow, chose to have a house built for her north of Hamby's
Creek. This was west of the Bowers Community and about a mile north of her
former home, but on land owned by her husband. Jacob Lopp, father of Peter,
Jacob and John Lopp, had settled at that place in Conrad Hill Township in the
1750's. Jacob Lopp, son of Peter and Mary, was one of the five Commissioners
appointed to ascertain the exact center of the new county. He also served on
juries and in other public positions. He lived on the ancestral home place and
raised a large family. Much of his land is now owned by his descendants.
Near the bridge where the present U. S. Highway
29-70 crosses Abbotts Creek there once stood a flour and gristmill owned by
Alexander Caldcleugh for many years. On the walls were tacked notices of
various kinds of interest to the public. Here in 1823 could be found such a
notice about voting for the location of the county seat. Here Alexander
Caldcleugh would come from his home in Lexington, exchange news with his
customers, help them with their wills and other legal documents and look after
the milling business. After his death his heirs sold the mill and large real
estate holdings to Jacob Barrier (or Berrier) and his wife, Chrissie Grimes
Berrier. Chrissie was a daughter of Henry Grimes and sister of George Grimes
who had mills on Reedy Creek and on the Yadkin River. It is a fact known by the
family that Jacob Berrier in the late 1840's built the house that is still
standing on the east bank of Abbotts Creek and regarded by some authorities as
a remarkably true specimen of the architecture of the day. The daughter of the
Jacob Berriers, Eliza, married Lemuel Lindsay Conrad. They continued to live in
this house after death of the Berriers and to operate the mill. The house is
now occupied by the Family Planning Center and Multiphasic Clinic. The mill was
torn down years ago to make way for changes in the highway. Since the early
settlement of the county the Berriers, Conrads and their descendants have been
known for their leadership in church and community affairs as well as their
expertise in farming and in operating a mill.
Northeast of the mill where the Old Greensboro Road
leaves Highway 29-70 was the plantation of Charles Long and wife, Mary Ann
Ledford Long. Their large holdings of some twelve hundred acres consisted of
virgin forests as well as cultivated fields. For more than a hundred years
through the ownership of Charles Long and his descendants these forests
remained untouched by axe or saw. In them could be found pawpaws, shag-bark
hickory nuts, walnuts, persimmons as well as rare wildflowers and wild animals.
After the death of Andrew Long and his sisters, Catherine and Susan, this land
was divided up and sold by their kinsmen living in another state.
North along the Old Greensboro Road in the first
part of the 19th century stood the home of Michael Sink and nearby his
blacksmith shop. He willed this to two sons George and Andrew but how long it
was operated cannot be ascertained. Michael had a large plantation which he
divided by deed a short time before his death among his three sons, George,
Michael Jr., and Andrew; some of his personal property he bequeathed by will to
his daughters-in-law and granddaughters. A log building now a part of a large
barn is said to have been a part of the residence of Andrew Sink. The residence
and land once belonging to Eli Sink (grandson of Andrew) eventually was
purchased by Herman Long Davis who sold some of the land to Davidson County
Community College when it was about to be located. Also, a son of Mr. Davis,
John Herman Davis, bought the property once owned by Matthias Sink (a son of
Andrew) and later sold some of his acreage to the College where handsome
buildings have been erected. Roscoe Sink (a great grand-son of Andrew) still
owns the property inherited from his father.
of Andrew Sink's sons, Samuel, John, Solomon and Matthias, fought in the Civil
War, with only Matthias living to return home. Samuel was engaged to Catherine
Long (mentioned above). When he left for the war, he gave her a watch and asked
her to wait for him. But he was killed in battle at Richmond and was buried in
a Confederate Cemetery there. Catherine, loyal to his memory, never married.
Proceeding northeast along the Old Greensboro Road,
a traveler can espy an old school house, almost concealed
by trees. This was once Fairview School, thought to have been built soon after
the first county participation in the common school law. Here the residents
along the Old Road, and on connecting roads, sent their children for a three or
four month term and sometimes a subscription school after that. In the later
years water was brought to the school in a wooden bucket from the Adam Hedrick
well across the road. Here, also, were held camp meetings with
baptisms in nearby Rich Fork Creek. This school district (or the part in
Thomasville Township) was consolidated with Pilot School in 1922.
farther north on the Old Greensboro Road and on the north side of it, stands an
impressive two-story building, with more depth than the typical farm house of
the day, with front porch supported by four large columns and with three
chimneys of brick laid in an unusual design. In 1816 William Dobson came with
his family from Guilford County and bought 252 acres on Hamby's Creek. His son
William, Jr., became a physician. In May 1829 he bought 380 acres on both sides
of Abbotts Creek, adjoining the lands of Daniel Myers, Joseph Waggoner, Hugh
Yokley and Thomas Livengood. It is assumed that he started building the
aforementioned house immediately. However, he died three months later and his
property was inherited by his mother Martha, his brothers John S. and Joseph B.
and his sisters, Pricilla and her husband Dan Clodfelter, and Martha and her
husband, Col. John Smith. Dr. Dobson was pro-eminent in the government of the
county and in the early days of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Lexington as
well as popular in his practice of medicine. He was buried in the Fair Grove
cemetery. His father's will, probated in 1833, left his property to the same
beneficiaries plus two granddaughters. The Clodfelters were the only
descendants of William Dobson, Sr., who remained in this section.
In 1833 Sheriff William Kennedy bought the home and
part of the real estate and lived there for some years. As he was a popular
sheriff for twelve years, no doubt his home was a center of political and
social life in the county. In 1844 the old house changed owners again, this
time to Eli Harris of Montgomery County about whom very little is known. It is
thought that the place was rented by William E. Roberson (or Robeson as sometimes
written) who ran a stagecoach inn there. Certainly the house was large enough
for this purpose -four rooms on the first floor and five on the second, and a
kitchen in the rear of the house. A large, long building to the south and rear
of the house was long thought to have stabled the horses for the stage coaches
and travelers. At the death of Eli Harris, Mr. Roberson bought the property but
be- fore many years ran into financial difficulty, probably caused by the
advent of the railroad.
in 1868 George and Jerome Kinney bought the place, moved
the Kinney family from the house on Hamby's Creek and lived there until the
death of George. Jerome and his family moved to Thomasville around
1890. He and seven of his close relatives held positions with the Southern
Railway and some of them lost their lives in this service. The old house passed
to the ownership of Mrs. H. P. Clinard, the daughter of George Kinney, and to
her descendants. At one time a post office was kept there.
Adjoining this farm in the early days was another on
which was located a house somewhat similar to the Dobson house. It was a large
two-story frame house said by some to have been built by one of the Dobsons.
Later it was bought by Solomon Darr and remained his residence and later that
of his descendants until torn down a few years ago.
A short distance from the Old Greensboro Road on Old
Highway 109 stands the Lewis Livengood home. He was the grandson of Hardtmann
and Anna Margretha Hornberger Leibengut who came from Pennsylvania in the
1780's and bought 400 acres of land between Rich Fork and Abbotts Creeks. After
his marriage to Phebe Long, Lewis did not continue to live near his
grandfather's home but moved to the south of Thomasville area. He and Phebe
were active in the Emanuel Church around 1845, he having been an elder. Some
years later they moved to the above-mentioned house, transferred their
membership and activity to Bethany Church and are there buried. The sturdy old
house, typical of its period, is now the home of Paul Livengood, a grandson of
Lewis and Phebe.
the extreme northwestern corner of the Thomasville Township area, about a mile
off the Old Greensboro Road and near the banks of Abbotts Creek, Charles Hoover
(son of aforementioned George Hoover) had a large plantation, grist and saw
mill, black- smith shop, and store. The mill was a popular meeting place for
farmers, a place where they could exchange news and discuss politics. As he
often made trips to Fayetteville to take wagon loads of wheat and bring back
supplies for his store, Charles Hoover passed through the length of the county
and met many of its citizens. It was natural, therefore, for him early to
become a leader in public affairs. In 1823 he had joined with his neighbors in
opposing the location of the county seat in Lexington. In 183l he served in the
General Assembly as a Senator and in 1846 as a Representative. During these
years he was also very much interested in the education of the children of his
community and served the school at Bethany in various responsible positions. In
1847-48 he was a member of the County Board of Superintendents of Common
Charles was the only son of George Hoover who had
grandsons. His son, Capt. P. A. Hoover, married Margaret Holmes and they
continued to live at the Hoover plantation. They had three sons - Early,
Charles M. and G. Marshall -and five daughters. Nearly all of these moved to
Thomasville as soon as they married. Early was a railroad engineer. Charles M. and
Marshall had a chair factory there and later in Lexington. All-both sons and
daughters-took an active part in the life of the town.
North of the Old Greensboro Road lived Robert Green
and his growing family, having come from southeast Guilford in the late 1790's,
and bought land from William Ledford. Some of their many descendants have
remained in the same area to this time. The new Ledford High School is built on
Green land a little west of N. C. Highway 109. Mary Green, daughter of Robert
Green, married Joseph L. Murphy, both of whom are buried at Bethany Church.
Among their descendants are ministers, teachers and others of cultural
interests. Benjamin Green, oldest son of Robert and Abagil, married Sally
Kennedy, sister of William Kennedy, an early sheriff of Davidson County. John,
fifth child of Robert and Abagil, married Betsy Kennedy, Sally's sister. John
and Betsy Green's grandson, Joseph Green, was a large landholder west of
present N. C. Highway 109 in the township. His sons, J. A. and J. C. Green came
to Thomasville in their youth and lived out long years of community service. J.
A. Green was a spoke manufacturer and J. C. Green gave full mortuary service
which continues today as a leading funeral home. These and many other Green
descendants have added much to Thomasville progress.
In 1838 Benjamin Green bought land just east of
Abbotts Creek and extending from the confluence of Rich Fork with Abbotts a
little south up Rich Fork meanderings to the south edge of land owned by
Caldcleugh. This adjoined the widow Lopp land and in the course of time his son
Jesse Green married her granddaughter Susan Lopp.
Not far south of the Greensboro road was Whitehart's
School in whose one room children of the district area were taught. Whiteharts,
Stones, Hiltons, Morrises, Regans, and Mendenhalls were families living
On the old road boundary
between Thomasville and Abbotts Creek townships near the eastern edge of the
county stands a large frame house, now unoccupied, and property of Mrs. E. E.
Cridlebaugh, its last resident. It was the home of the Cridlebaugh family
from about 1890 when it was purchased from the Brummell family. Much earlier it
was known as Brummell's Inn. High in its large square chimney, now enclosed by
a later building addition, one reads "J. B. 1814."
Since the original square house resembles an earlier style, 1814 may have been
the year Jacob Brummell added the rooms on the upper west side and opened the
inn for use by stagecoach travelers passing daily. A large fireplace on upper
and lower sides of the chimney supplied winter heat. A later addition on the
east side of the house was made one step down on the sloping hillside. A front
porch reached by rock steps spans the entire front with a door into each of the
three sections. From the central lobby narrow winding stairs lead to an upper
lobby and a number of small bedrooms on the front. Some of their windows still
have the original glass panes, hand blown showing scattered bubbles.
Cridlebaugh retains today the walnut sideboard and long table used to serve inn
guests, and also the large conch shell whose peals blown by a strong kitchen
maid called slaves to their dinner. Jacob Brummell kept a number of horses in
nearby Rich Fork meadows, ready for changes before the coaches continued to
distant points. The Brummell family was long prominent in Davidson County.
Jacob Brummell was one of the first thirty-six Justices, which group was
responsible for county organizations and administration of justice. Charles
Brummell served six terms in the State Legislature before 1850, and Hiram
Brummell one term in 1858. Jacob's daughter Elizabeth in 1808 married David
Harlan, son of Enoch Harlan of Pine Woods Community.
Near the inn was Brummell's Post Office. Today Mrs.
Ila Burton Craven treasures letters mailed in 1841, before stamps were used,
the charge according to the distance carried. One of these was addressed to Mr.
William Asabel Hedgecock, Brummell's Inn, Davidson County from Raleigh, N. C.
with 12 cents postage charge written in the upper corner.
South of Brummell's Inn lived families named
Kennedy, Bodenheimer, Burton, Pope, and Payne. An early Kennedy had a sawmill
and gristmill on a creek a little northwest of its crossing by U. S. 29-70 A at
the foot of the long Kennedy Hill, also near the eastern county line. Stones
from the mill dam remain though all parts of the mill are gone.
Continuing on U. S. 29-70 A toward Thomasville, a
short distance to its right on the Hasty Road, was a small school building.
This was erected early in the public schools period on land given by James
Sparrow Kennedy near his home which was a little east of present Hasty School.
There children of the district were instructed for short winter terms for many
years until consolidation in the 1920's provided education from primary through
high school at the Hasty School. Since it was no longer needed for school
purposes, the Kennedy School land reverted to Kennedy heirs.
John Kendall lived on present Unity Street a short
distance west of 29-70 A as it enters Thomasville proper. He was the son of
Benjamin Kendall and relative of Nathan Kendall whose early transactions in
land have been found in Rowan deeds. In 1859 John Kendall ran an advertisement
in the Greensborough Patriot saying he had been operating "at the
old stand" for twenty years. This referred to Kendall Carriage Works
located near his home. Earlier he had given land for a school which stood just,
where Griffith Street now enters Unity. It also served the community until
Hasty School included this area. John Kendall probably ceased operating his
Carriage Works soon after the Civil War. Hard times of the Reconstruction
period and personal troubles threw him into bankruptcy. With his property gone,
he went west as did many others at this time.
On a rounded hilltop on Unity Street about a mile
west of John Kendall today stands Grace Lutheran Church. But from about 1810
Silas Hart Peace and his family lived at this place. He had come to America
before 1800, had come to Guilford County where in 1802 he married Miriam
Widdows, and lived in what is now South High Point for five years. Then for
$500.00 he bought 200 acres from William Lusk adjoining Rich Fork Creek. (That
meant in the terms of that time on land drained by Rich Fork or its tributaries.)
Recorded deeds show his purchase of other large tracts south in the Rich Fork
area. Later deeds show his sales to his various sons on Hanks Branch, and one
to Joseph Peace as far south as Hamby's Creek. This was on present Lexington
Avenue in Thomasville and is the only known Peace land now owned by his
Silas Peace was a joiner, that is, a skilled worker
in wood, and a cabinet worker. He prospered in his professions and was
recognized as a valuable citizen when chosen as a Justice in 1823. With
the help of his sons, he operated a waterpowered sawmill and gristmill on
Hunt's Fork, north of his home. Stones from the long disused dam were removed
in recent years for building purposes.
Farther down this stream they built a carriage and
wagon factory. They decorated their vehicles with realistic birds and
flowers. Their wagons were known
as "Red Bird" wagons. The plant finally burned and was not rebuilt.
Among the eleven children of Silas and Miriam Peace was Silas, Jr., their ninth
child who was born in 1814 and died in 1900. He also was a skilled
cabinetmaker. Today a number of pieces of furniture he made may be seen in the
homes of his descendents.
In 1830 Silas Peace sold 100 acres of land northeast
of his home, including a section near Hunt's Fork, to John Wesley Burton. The
buyer built a large frame house for his family on a rounded hill near the
center of his holding. Some of this property remains in the family today. Mrs.
Kathleen Russell now owns and lives in that house, somewhat remodeled and
modernized for comfort and use. It centers Thomasville's residential
development appropriately called Huntsford Hills.
Also about 1830 Emsley Burton bought from Benjamin
Kendall 81 acres and from William Hogan and wife Elizabeth 300 acres, the
latter purchase for $600.00.
Following the American Revolution, the State of
North Carolina appropriated lands held by Tories, of whom this area had a large
number. Such land was sold as State Grants at fifty shillings per hundred
acres. William McCreery bought a Grant of 250 acres adjoining the lands of
David Logan and Thomas Bones, which he sold to Hugh Tomlinson in 1783. Earlier
William Tomlinson bought a State Grant of 400 acres from Richardson Owens for 210
pounds. This land was on Hanks Branch, later called Culbreth's Branch on the
north side of Thomasville as it crosses the park area. A northern part of this
400 acres in the Hunt's Fork drainage area William Tomlinson sold to James
Hilton, who then sold its 246 acres to Irah Tomlinson for 156 pounds. Josiah
Tomlinson witnessed this deed. A State Grant to Samuel Tomlinson for 40 acres
on Rich Fork of Abbotts Creek is described as beginning at a small black oak on
John English's line on said Tomlinson's line, thence west on Seborn Tucker's
line, along it south to a pine, Moffitt's corner, then along it to a stone,
thence north to the beginning. This deed was entered 29th day of April, 1799.
We note it refers to earlier Tomlinson land and also to John English and Robert
Moffitt, adjoining ~residents. Other deeds of that time show lands held in the
surrounding community by Benjamin Ward, Richard Hanks, Henry Ross, Joseph and
Christian Wilson, Enoch Harlan, and Nathan Hunt. A little later Jeremiah
Kimbrough, Isaac Jones, Salathiel Stone, Benjamin Ross, Joseph Ross, Thomas
Tams, Jesse Taggart, Joseph Stone and Seborn Tucker acquired land nearby. In
such a well-settled community, it is little wonder that families of the Friends
faith in 1791 organized a meeting which gathered in larger homes on the
Sabbath. Samuel Tom1inson saw need of a central place to worship, and on July
17, 1794 made a deed recorded in Book 14, page 843 of Rowan County Records.
This grants to Enoch Harlan and Joseph Wilson, "Overseers of the Society
of a people called Quakers of the County" a hilltop location of
five acres next to Nathan Hunt for a meetinghouse and a graveyard. For this
land he was paid ten shillings. This deed was proved in the February Court of
1797 and witnessed by Joseph Tomlinson, Charles Pedgren, and Nathan Hunt. To
this property members moved logs from an old house given by Hannah Moffitt and
constructed a one-room log meeting house. Here families gathered for
meditation, prayer and testifying. In true Quaker practice they waited for the
Spirit to move one or another to speak. When there was a minister, he read
scripture and led in worship. Without a minister, one designated as clerk was
in charge. Later a frame building was placed on the site of the present church
and used for many years. In the rear a graveyard was set off to serve a large
area, one of the few graveyards then in this section. Many of the early markers
were of sandstone and have deteriorated so as to be no longer legible. Others
preserve the names of families of that time.
Of the Overseer Joseph Wilson, only the fact that he
purchased land on Hunt's Fork in 1795 has been discovered. But in Quaker Re-
cords at Guilford College, Enoch Harlan is described as a farmer, miller,
cooper, and wagon maker, a Friend, and a good scholar with especial interest in
astronomy. It was a great loss when this versatile man died Oct. 18, 1794 of
typhus fever. He was buried at Pine Woods.
Pine Woods Meeting was a member of Springfield
Monthly Meeting and of Deep River Quarterly Meeting. Their records give
some of its history. Its community was made up of hardworking farmers,
blacksmiths, millwrights, coopers, joiners, and later manufacturers of
carriages and wagons. As older members died and younger ones moved into growing
Thomasville, few meetings were held. After years of disuse, the property was
sold in 1920 to Methodists who today worship in a large brick edifice. Behind
this church and in front of the rock walled graveyard, stands a large monument
built of native quartz with an inscription reminding readers of its long record
as a place of worship.
In reviewing the many
families of Pine Woods Friends, one finds the Thomlinson family outstanding.
Samuel Tomlinson and his wife Ann had five sons to whom Ann made over all her
claims to lands held after the death of her husband in 1804. Some of the larger
Tomlinson family went to Indiana as many Quakers did before the Civil War, but
many remained to carryon their various trades. Many old-timers remember homes
of different Tomlinson families on or near Pineywood Road. There were houses
built by Samuel and Thomas Tomlinson. In the house built by his father English
Tomlinson, lived Edward Tomlinson who married Virginia Lambeth. He contributed
to the growth of Thomasville by building rent houses to meet the need of the
town's increasing population. Only one house, that of the late Robert T.
Tomlinson, originally built by his father, Shannon Tomlinson, remains today, a
splendid example of beauty of plan and construction. Thomasville benefited as
many Tomlinsons moved into town and were active in business and filled
prominent places. Nettie Angelia, elder daughter of Shannon Tomlinson, married
David Thomas Lambeth, Jr., and lived in a handsome house on East Main Street in
Thomasville for the remainder of her life. Among the latest to move were T. H.
Tomlinson, Clarence Tomlinson and W. E. Tomlinson who gave business service and
Pine Woods Meeting most likely drew the attendance
of the Peace family, as well as the Kendalls and Burtons who lived not far
away. Zebulon Hunt, son of Nathan Hunt, a charter member, was prominent in
Davidson County's formative years. He was one of four commissioners to set up
its first boundaries, was a Superior Court juror, and most important, was
another of the first Justices from this part of the new county.
On the narrow road leading from Silas Peace's mill
lived Robert Moffitt, a Quaker who owned a tan yard and had several hundred
acres of land. In 1835 Robert made a deed to his son David for 80 acres and
one-half the tan yard, reserving the other half for himself during his
lifetime. David had in 1828 married Elizabeth, the daughter of Moses and
Tabitha Tomlinson who lived in the Pine Woods community. For many years the old
Moffitt place was the outstanding residence in the community, known not only
for its size but also for the beauty of its grounds and the dry-stone masonry.
On a level with the road, the smooth, green lawn led to a white picket fence.
Back of the fence was a long, narrow flower bed lined on each side with stones
and extending the width of the lawn from the cedar lane (which led to the
carriage house and tan yard) to a large plum tree and bed o~ iris, amaryllis
and jonquils at the other end. Back of the flowerbed was another strip of green
lawn, leading to the stone foundation of the house. At each end of the house
was a group of cedars, lilacs, burning bush, mock orange and spirea. A
flagstone walk led to the porch.
The weather-boarded house was placed on a slope so
that one side of the basement was ground level, the building thereby being
three-storied in the rear. The roof was covered with extremely large handmade
shingles. The front door was sheltered by a small square porch that was
surmounted by an identical upper porch. This double gallery was the one touch
of high style added to an impressive but plain Quaker home. The entrance hall was not placed in the
usual manner as a division of the house with front and back outside doors. This
hall ex- tended partly across the front of the house, thus providing space for
a large square dining room in the center section with windows facing the back
yard. Equal sized square rooms were placed at either end of the hall. The
placement of these large rooms in a row eliminated the necessity of the usual
"L" shape plan but did give the front of the structure a very long
facade. The arrangement of rooms was similar on each floor and the front hall
accommodated the necessary stair- way. The whole house, sidewalls and overhead,
was ceiled with very wide boards, probably virgin pine. Dropped from the dining
room was a dumb waiter descending into the basement kitchen.
Leading from the basement kitchen door was a path
passing by the carriage house down a steep hill covered with a flourishing
orchard to a spring and milk house built of stones. The floor around the spring
consisted of flat stones so closely fitted together that they appeared to be
one solid piece. Near the spring house but located on a branch of another spring
was the pool used in soaking the hides and a house for storing the tanned
hides. The spring branch was lined with large flat stones for probably one
fourth of a mile; it ran under the public road through a culvert also made of
stones. The old houseplace and stones now lie under Highway 29 and 70 but the
old tanning hole can still be seen by careful searching.
David Moffitt was
listed as a tanner in the Manufacturing Census of 1850 and later. He purchased
hundreds of acres of land and was active in the building of the North Carolina
Railroad. He was a devout Quaker, holding the office of Elder in the Pine Woods
Quaker Church for many years. (When his death was reported in the minutes of
the church he was listed as a "Minister. “) Believing strongly in education,
he provided for the schooling of his own and his neighbors' children by
building a school house on his land. This was also used as a meeting house.
After the beginning of county participation in the public school act, the
Moffitt’s Grove School was known in the county records as District 3 with David
Moffitt, John Stone and I. H. Mendenhall as the first committee and with 128
children. Many years later it was named Calvary when the Reformed Church of
that name was built beside it.
Between the Moffitt place and the Old Greensboro
Road lived Philip Kanoy and his relatives. In 1827 he purchased 238 acres from
Peter Clodfelter on Hunt's Fork Creek and built his residence near the creek's
ford. Later he gave farms to his sons David and Jacob on which they built large
homes along the road between his place and that of David Moffitt. (The deed to
his "beloved son" Jacob is dated 1866.) Succeeding generations have
built residences for themselves along this road, now appropriately called
"Kanoy Road" and have prospered in their lines of work.
Adjoining the Kanoy and Moffitt land, but fronting
on both sides of the Thomasville-Lexington Road, was the George Darr plantation
which his father Andrew Darr, a large landholder, had bought for him from
Samuel Conrad in 1842. George Darr and his wife, Barbara Hedrick Darr, had two
sons and three daughters, all of whom married and lived nearby. Augusta married
Bethlehem Black, who had an adjoining farm and blacksmith shop; Martha married
Henry Jackson Conrad, son of Lemuel Lindsay Conrad and Eliza Berrier Conrad,
mentioned heretofore; Lala married Junius Sink of the Pilgrim community;
Erastus married Nettie Leonard, daughter of David and Faustine Leonard; and
Jacob C. Darr married Elizabeth Kanoy, daughter of David and Eliza Kanoy. All
were substantial farmers and leaders in their community. Mrs. Iva Kennedy Darr
(Mrs. Robert L.) now lives in a large residence on the site of the George Darr
Going northeast on the
present Thomasville-Lexington Road, the traveler in the 1850's would pass the
Moffitt School House given as mentioned above. David Moffitt also deeded farms
on this road to his sons-in-law, S. C. Hamilton and the Rev. Jesse Cecil. In 1849 he deeded 37 acres to Emanuel
Veach whose daughter Loretta married David A. Long, Sr. This land is now a part of the tract
upon which is located the magnificent Community General Hospital.
Entering the present city
of Thomasville the traveler passed the home of Joseph Peace whose grandfather
Silas Peace had sold him a tract of land extending from the present Lexington
Avenue towards Hamby's Creek. No
records can be found of any residents before 1849 of the area that is now the
center of Thomasville. From
incidental descriptions and trees still remaining, it is thought to have been a
heavily wooded land. Why some said
it was called "Whitehart's Hog Crossing" is not known. Probably a
road led across the area from Pine Woods toward Trinity or Bush Hill
(Archdale). There was a powerful
spring near Thomasville Furniture Industries present office. It is said that there was a camping
ground (Indian) where Ragan Knitting Mill now is. It is known that present Fisher Ferry Street was the
beginning of the old Fisher Ferry Road which led many miles south to the
narrows of the Yadkin in Alleghany Town- ship and the ferry there owned by a
Mr. Fisher before the county was formed.
Who owned all the land covered by the town now is
not known before John W. Thomas came upon the scene. His deeds show that he bought in 1849 from William R. Holt
673 acres and in 1851 from Samuel Gaither 198 acres (part of Piney Woods tract
owned by Col. W. Hogan). It is
thereby indicated that John W. Thomas envisioned a town on the North Carolina
Railroad whose chosen route was announced in 1851. In the 1850-1860 decade this man laid the foundations for
that town, appropriately called Thomasville. He set up a steam-powered mill for
grinding grain and sawing lumber.
He built and operated a large store. Men flocked in for work in felling
the forest, building houses for their families, and working on railroad
construction. He bought Glen Anna
Female Seminary which stood between his Fair Grove home and the new town and
moved it in 1857 to the brick building Contractor Robert Gray had erected.
Jewell Sink and Mary G. Matthews, assisted by James Hoover originally published
in Historical gleanings of Davidson County, North Carolina. By Davidson
County Bicentennial Committee in 1976.
by Ruth Ann Copley
County Public Library System