IS THAT YOU, GRANDPA?
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