Thursday, October 16, 2014

Time Travel: Is That You, Grandpa? Part 3 of 3

Time Travel: Is That You, Grandpa? Part 3 of 3: IS THAT YOU, GRANDPA? Part 3 of 3 Part 1 – Two sisters meet once more to find a Mighty Tough Ancestor Part 11 – Two sisters are l...

Is That You, Grandpa? Part 3 of 3


Part 3 of 3

Part 1 – Two sisters meet once more to find a Mighty Tough Ancestor
Part 11 – Two sisters are lost in a Battle on King’s Mountain
Part 111 – Grandpa is lost on Tyger River.  We return home.

John Campbell, our ancestor who had been conscripted into the British army, then escaped to join the Carolina Militia, drawled out his story to us. 
He began speaking easy and in no hurry.  “You got the word out that you wanted to talk to some ancissor, so you got me.  I’ll tell you how it really was, what this shootin’ today means.”
We settled on the ground, two old ladies who didn’t know if they were in 1780 or 2014, but waited eagerly to hear what this young man had to tell us.
“You see, my family, friends came down to these hills so we could do our farmin’, the land treats us good.  The huntin’ is mighty good, all sizes from turkeys to bears.  All we asked, just let us alone, any fightin’ we gotta do will be to keep the Injuns out of our corn.”
Nancy knew about the anti-war views of our Quaker forefathers and she answered his declarations. “And besides you didn’t drink tea anyway.”
 “Yep, those hi-faluting folk up east wasn’t doing nothing for us and we didn’t want their squabbles.  Then that dumb Briter Ferguson began putting up posters, ‘Join the Loyalists’ or else -- and this is what showed he had no brains a tall, -- he wrote out, ‘Join or the British flag will march over the mountain and lay waste with fire and sword.’”
Nancy and I both nodded showing our understanding.  John continued, “Pardon the language, ladies, but he told us we would be pissed on by a set of mongrels.  Well, we just decided we would save him the trouble of crossing the mountain and so we come right to him, right here on Kings Mountain.  And us Patriots caught those stoop Tories by surprise.  We screamed up that hill and the dumb stoops were still asleep.”   
Nancy added, “We had to hide behind those trees when you guys came streaming around us.”
“You almost got caught in their charge.  They came after us with bayonets aiming at anything that moved.  We had our long rifles but couldn’t handle stickers and had to get out of the way.  Back and forth and we got a lot more of them than they did of us.”
I noticed the quiet and told him, “Seems like it’s all over now.”
“Yep, took about an hour.  That stoop Ferguson got a lot of bullets shot into him when he pranced around on top of the hill, That finished it.”    
Nancy rose to her feet.   “I need to tell you what future generations said about you. Theodore Roosevelt wrote ‘This brilliant victory marked the turning point of the American Revolution.’”
John had a smile when he answered.  “Well, I never heard of him in my battles but I’ll tell you that you got a lot of kinfolk in this fight.  I heard you saw the Sherrill boys and Dickie Perkins.  The Martindell folk wrote all this up so maybe you read it.  Then some other names right here in these hills – Belew (Belue), Sailors, Perkins, Clark, Osborne, Lollar - all good solid folk living around here.  I’m going to get this fightin’ finished up and head for my sweetie and home.”

Then he was gone, just disappeared, the well-used tourist trail now in front of us.  The sun was July strong.   I asked Nancy, “Can you smell it?”
“Same smell as when we hang the wet leather jackets in the closet.  Were they really here?”
“Probably not,” I told her, “We just saw that fantastic film at the Kings Mountain Auditorium.  The battle was dramatized so strong it kept us on seat’s edge and then we brought it out doors on our walk.”
She answered, “I wish we had a souvenir to prove it.”
Actually we came home with two souvenirs.  Nancy took home a bad case of poison ivy itches.  Mariam brought home a story that would not go away.   
Third day and it was time for the search for the Tyger River.  The description was rather vague:  ‘John Campbell received a grant of 150 acres on a branch of the Tyger River called Padgett Creek . . . ‘
Another clue we had:  
‘Col. Thomas Brandon’s, (3rd SC Regiment), home is on the way from the town of Union out to the old Friend’s Church on Padgett Creek.’ 
When we checked google we saw a pretty picture of the Padgett’s Creek Baptist Church.  We didn’t expect a sign which said “John Campbell lived here” but we have had such good fortune in all of our historic searches that a signal should come to lead the way.  Our luck had been good so far on this trip.  A stop we almost missed at a Branch Library led the way to find our Sherrills.  A rootin’ tootin’ shootin’ film led the way to a visit with John Campbell.  Now there should be another clue. 
One can’t visit the Carolinas without enjoying the sights of a southern mansion.  The Rose Hill Historic Plantation was the perfect choice.  It still had a taste of the southern charm plus a path to follow for scenery.   Wherever possible we asked questions concerning the history of 1780 residents.  We got one tip:  “Go back a few miles and there is a turn off for the Rose Hill boat ramp on Tyger River.”
Our confidence returned. We set out again on a narrow rough road leading to a river.  When we came to the end of the tracks, a few cars were parked and canoes were pulling in to the shore.  This was obviously a fun loving afternoon for this group. 

As we walked to the river. Nancy asked Mariam, “Are you going to take your shoes off and wade around a bit?”  She was kidding.  Mariam wasn’t.  I bent down to get a handful of the water that someplace on this river had been flowing past John Campbell’s tract of land.  I asked those who were pulling their canoes out of the water, “Do you go swimming in the Tyger?”  Her answer:  “It’s warm enough for swimming but not allowed.”  I shivered.  This water was cold.
Again we asked the questions.  “Sure, the Padgett’s Creek Baptist Church is just a couple of miles down the road.  You can’t miss it.”
We returned to the main road and were hopeful for the first couple of miles.  Then a few more miles and we began to wonder where we had gone wrong.  We drove over ten miles deeper into the Sumter National Forest before the driver of our chariot declared, “That’s enough.  That church isn’t here.”
Our ancestor hunt was over.  We had found the reasons that our grandpa’s and grandma’s had fought for this land.  We knew that we had breathed the same clear air and that our eyes had enjoyed feasting on the same beauty. 
We still had three more days until returning home.   We spread out our maps and used a pink highlighter to circle our choices in the brochures.  We enjoyed a variety of places that could have been found only in the Carolinas.  Our feet were tired but our faces were happy after we visited the Botanical Garden and the Geology Museum at Clemson University.  The Estatoe Double Falls were written to have the easiest climb, but we found them almost to find. 

 We took some neat photos in historic Pendleton and had mouthwatering Crab Cakes at the 1826 On the Green.  Oh yes, plus spending a few dollars in the antique (souvenir) shops.

 Another place, not on our maps but found by luck:  The Wesley Chapel UMC on the edge of Greenville had marvelous singing and gave us the warmest of welcomes.  We will not forget them. 
A wonderful trip and two sisters spent quality time together.  It had been 16 years since we had given our hugs in the Munich Hotel and said, “We will do it again, just the two of us.”  Now we could cross one more item off of the Bucket List and look forward to the next one. 
We made a little joke that Grandpa Campbell had let us down in our search for his homestead footsteps.  “Just a couple of miles” was the clue and we went deeper into the forest searching.  Sorry, grandpa, I just found out that it was our mistake, not yours.  As I type, there is a map in front of me which shows the Old Buncombe Road.  We went the couple of miles in the wrong direction.  If we had taken the road out of the forest instead of into the forest we would have found you. However, you sent me a handful of cold water from a warm river.  Thank you.

Mariam Lewis Heiny Cheshire

#MariamLewis #TygerRiver #PadgettsCreekBaptistChurch #WesleyChapelUMC


Sunday, October 12, 2014

IS THAT YOU, GRANDPA? -Part 2 of 3

Part 2 of 3

Part 1 – Two sisters meet once more to find a Mighty Tough Ancestor
Part 11 – Two sisters are lost in a Battle on King’s Mountain
Part 111 – Grandpa is lost on Tyger River.  We return home.

Second day.   pow – POW – wheesh!  “Nancy!  Duck!  Get down!”  Nancy heard the terrified shout and clung tightly to a nearby towering oak.  Red coats could be seen through the heavy tree branches, shiny blades on heavy muskets pushing a way directly toward us.  The shout came again. “Nancy, we gotta get out of here”.
Then, behind us, all around us, were the silent movements of leather clad men, some carrying long rifles, others with pitchforks held loosely, more with axes chopping a bothersome branch.  I was frightened, my knees trembled, I slid to the ground, my cheek tight against wet scratchy bark.  Somehow I  knew these to be our militia.   They didn’t see two old ladies who had happened in the midst of a battle that would change the course of the Revolutionary War. 
  The year was 1780.  Or maybe it was 2014.  The month was October.  Or maybe it was July.  A Carolina rain had been steady in the morning, bringing the woodsy smell alive.  We had been climbing the uphill trail and the branches blowing around us seemed to wipe out the path.  I knew we had seen this scene sometime earlier, way back someplace sitting comfortable, not on this hard wet ground.  The rustling deep greens surrounding me were unknown in the dryness of Phoenix.  Phoenix had disappeared. I tried to catch my breath, tried to get air in my lungs, even while realizing the strange unusual beauty around me. 
Earlier in the day, or maybe it had been tomorrow,  I had watched handsome young men in leather deerskins with tassels riding gallant horses and carrying shiny rifles.  I peered again from behind the tree, trying to see if this was real or could I be dreaming.

“Get back there, ladies, both of you, stay back down out of the way.”  He was young, he was crawling right behind us, face peering from behind a huge rock.  His buckskins had an old dirty smell, no fringes on these.  My voice croaked, “Are you part of the show?” 
“Lady, I’m tellin’ ya both, we left the horses back aways, go straight down and ride them whiplash to the Sherrill camp.  Git outa here before one of those bloody baynets goes straight thru ya.”
I almost shrieked, “Did you say Sherrill?  Are you Adam Sherrill?”
“No, I ain’t him, him and Dickie Perkins went the other way circling those Tories.”  Then he was gone.  Did he say Dick Perkins, our gr-way-back grandfather? I didn’t have time to ask, Nancy was whispering, “He’s right, we better move down.”
I shook my leg free from her grasp.  “No, we’re OK, our guys are pushing them.”  But then our guys were coming backward, slowly, loading and shooting, darting from cover to cover.  One, sturdy and strong farmer type, wearing a homespun shirt, the color of the mud around us, dropped to his knees, surprised, turned his rifle in our direction, then swung it up in the air.  He hissed, “Git outta here, there ain’t no camp around us to git any dang gum work.” 
Nancy pulled away from the tree.  “We’re not looking for work, we’re looking for ancestors.” 
He pushed her down, “There ain’t no ansissors round this place, just some mighty piss-angry boobies. 
My face almost in the dirt, I had to ask, “What is your name?”
He shot once more and dust was all around us from his wad of fire.  “I’m a good Christian Martindell and I don’t have no truck with wimmen out in the field.”  He was backing away as he added, “We belong to Colonel Brandon, a fightin’ sun-of-a-gun who is fixin’ to backtrack around this mountain and cut through all the regments they got.” 

This whole scene was flashing with memory and I recognized his  name as James, married with three small children, who had joined the Patriots in 1780 and when they called him he grabbed his gun and axe and let the farming go until later.  A private now, he would be promoted on the field to Lieutenant. 
It became quiet as the signs of battle moved over in another direction.  We didn’t want to move, partly afraid maybe those British bayonets might actually draw blood from 2014 flesh, partly because we didn’t want to miss any more of the 1780 scene and very much because Mariam needed to catch air in her lungs. 
A soldier, walking straight and proud, wearing hunter deerskins, came toward us.  He sat down beside us, almost as though we had time for an afternoon picnic.  “I’m John Campbell,” he announced.  “I heard you were here and might want to talk to me.”
Yes, we were anxious to talk to him but how did he recognize 2014?
We had read of his trials.  He had been in town with a friend and a British soldier asked their loyalty.  The friend replied “Well I guess I better stand with the Colonies.”  They shot him without warning and gave John the option of joining the British forces.   He promptly signed up.  Although within ten miles of home, he couldn’t see his family or tend his crops.   It took some planning to escape and join with the Carolina Militia.
He began talking, easy and in no hurry.  “You got the word out that you wanted to talk to some ancissor, so you got me.  I’ll tell you how it really was, what this shootin’ today means.  How we’re going to get those Brits off of our land and then I can go back home.”

We settled on the ground, two old ladies who didn’t know if they were in 1780 or 2014, but waited eagerly to hear what this young man had to tell us.

                              To be continued 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

iS THAT YOU, GRANDPA? - Part 1 of 3


Part 1 – Two sisters meet once more to find a Mighty Tough Ancestor
Part 11 – Two sisters are lost in a Battle on King’s Mountain
Part 111 – Grandpa is lost on Tyger River.  We return home.

September 21, 1998:  A hotel room in Munich.  The two sisters had been travelling in Europe, families left behind, just the two of them enjoying explorations and being together.  “We’ll plan another trip soon,” they agreed as they hugged farewell.  But it had been 16 years. 

“One of these days” had finally arrived.  Now, once again, Mariam and Nancy, just the two of them, were armed with maps and notes to track down ancestors from the 18th century.  We were searching for farmers and hunters who had left slavery in Virginia and Pennsylvania to find land in what is now the Carolinas. 
Wednesday, July 9, 2014.  Arrival in Charlotte, North Carolina.  We were in the same predicament as our forefathers.  Would we be happy with the new land?  Or would we need to journey further?
Bad omens awaited us.  Dark clouds opened and gave us a drenching welcome as we ran to take charge of Nancy’s rental steed.   At our first camping spot, a miserable motel in Gastonia, we ate from our duffel bags and determined to find a place more suitable for our needs.  With the trusty I-Pad, we located a Best Western near the Greenville Airport.  Finally, a ray of sunshine!  This would become our safe cave during that week, assured of nearby food, water and a snug resting place.  From here, we could track in all four directions.

In our internet searches Sherrill’s Ford was a very small spot on the Catawba River.  In the 1740s only the Catawba Indians and stragglers from the Cherokee nations roamed this wilderness.   
In 1747, Adam “The Pioneer” Sherrill, ventured across the Catawba River along with his family of eight sons (and including sister Mary married to Richard Perkins, our ancestor.)  They saw the future in this land of lakes and tall trees and decided to settle in the unexplored forest.
They were the first white people to make homes here, erecting stockade type houses made of rough logs and designed chiefly for protection against the marauding Cherokees.
When we read of these explorations we considered it easy to follow in their footsteps.  Find the dot for Sherrill’s Ford on a google map . . . and go there.  First stop:  Lincolnton, the largest town in the area.  We met with people at the Chamber of Commerce, followed up with more talk at the Library and found out that Sherrill’s Ford was over there someplace.  No one seemed to be hopeful about our success. 
Eventually, with maybe a possible lead to further information, we followed I-Pad clues on a sub road.  We almost passed it up.  The sign read “Branch Library.” In a town of 900 people we couldn’t expect much from a Branch Library.  

We hit pay dirt.  Two pleasant librarians dug out books, maps, made copies and when we mentioned hunger, they dug in their purses and handed us breakfast bars. 
The prize was an “Eastern Catawba County Settlers” showing the location of Adam Sherrill house and tracts surrounding him with more Sherrill and Perkins families. 
Now for the bad news.  We would not walk in his footsteps.  If we had been here in 1929 we could have seen the commemorative boulder erected on the soil where he had landed.  When Lake Norman had been expanded these homes were covered by the waters.  The boulder had been moved . . . somewhere. 
Reading through the stack of info papers, we found a photo of the Sherrill family cemetery where Adam is supposedly buried.  Also we had directions:  Take Island Point Road and then Camden Road. 
Around and around we went.  Adam would have been pleased with his choice of settlement. The lush tall trees remained.  The lake was now surrounded by top price homes with expensive boats at the docks.  But we couldn’t find Camden Road.  We continued to search until we spotted a road leading up to . . . yes, well hidden by tall trees lay the cemetery.  We parked and wandered among slanted and worn gravestones from the earliest years. All burial dates were previous to 1865.  As we snapped pictures, we imagined the funeral services held here two hundred years ago for members of our family.  The feeling of family was strong on this land. 

We continued to search for the Commemorative Boulder, retracking our steps, driving blindly, no directions, just calling, “Where are you, Uncle Adam?”  Suddenly I hollered, “Nancy, turn around.  There is something down that road we just passed.”  No signs or markers pointing the way had been put up.  Almost it appeared that the stone had been placed wherever it would be out of the way, a small slope by the side of the road.  We parked in a private driveway of a white house, walked across the grassy incline and took our pictures. 
We were hungry, tired, but happy.  Once again we had found a connection to the past. 

to be continued