History of Davie County
In the Forks of the Yadkin River
by James W. Wall
Information published on this site is copied, with permission, from History of Davie County in the Forks of the Yadkin, written by James W. Wall. Mr. Wall is a native of Davie County and a retired teacher from the Davie County School System. The first edition of History of Davie County was published in 1969. Mr. Wall’s last update to his book was in 1997 and includes the history for Davie County from 1969 to 1994.
Mr. Wall did extensive research in preparation for writing the History of Davie County. His sources included archives from many North Carolina libraries, records maintained by the Courts, newspapers and periodicals, family letters and memorabilia, and interviews with Davie County historians. His five-year study resulted in a comprehensive and interesting account of Davie County, beginning in the1700’s when the first explorers recorded their impressions of the land and Indians, and continuing with Davie County’s influence on the Revolutionary War and Civil War. Mr. Wall relates the sites of historic significance to their present-day locations and refers to many surnames that are still recognized in Davie today. He concludes the book with a description of Davie townships and communities, and the agriculture and industry that lead to their establishment.
History of Davie County is available in the Public Library. In the Davie County Library, Mr. Wall has provided video and pictures related to his research for the book. Historical accounts in History of Davie County come to life with Mr. Wall’s coloful descriptions, making this a great resource for students.
An index to the names in the full publication (this is an excerpt) can be found at this web address: EveryNameIndex for “History of Davie County, In the Forks of the Yadkin”.
Lawson, Byrd, and the Moravians told of the abundance of fish, game, and animal life. Bear, deer, panthers, wolves, wild turkeys, and pigeons were found in great numbers. The Moravian Records, November 2, 1760, note “that there were many bears and wolves about. The Moravians killed several of the former, one weighing 300 pounds…..” Bears are know to have been especially numerous in the area that became Davie County. Bear Creek was so named because of them. Daniel Boone and his father Squire Boone, who settled on the creek, are said to have killed approximately 100 bears there in one winter. It is said that chestnuts, beech, and chinquapin trees were numerous along the creek and that bears came in large numbers to eat the nuts. Animals would have also been attracted to the creek because of its salt content.
Wolves and panthers caused heavy losses to early settlers. The Moravians noted the necessity for exterminating wolves, and Rowan County paid bounties for scalps and ears of wolves and panthers. Tradition in the Jacob Booe family says that early settlers in the Bethel Church section, on Elisha and on Dutchman Creeks, had to carry pine torches at night to keep the wolves away. Another tradition says that settlers on the Yadkin in the Fork Church section had to milk their cows and care for their stock before dark to avoid being attacked by panthers
Nine thousand or more years ago people lived on the land that is now Davie County. Labeled “Paleo-Americans,” they seem to have traveled in small groups and hunted the mammoth, mastodon, wild horse, camel, and ground sloth. They left spears, arrowheads, tools and charcoal from their fires along the banks of the Yadkin river. Freshets, erosion, plowing and excavations have uncovered remains and aritifacts which date these people and tell something of the life of these earliest inhabitants of the Yadkin River area.
Approximately 175 arrowheads found on the west side of the Yadkin at Cooleemee Plantation have been classified by Dr. Joffre L. Coe of the University of North Carolina and Dr. James Bingham, of Lexington, president of the North Carolina Archaeological Society. One of these arrowheads, a Hardaway, is some 9000 years old; and several others date back 8000 to 8500 years. This collection contains arrowheads from many different peoples and of different periods of time from about 7000 B.C. to the eighteenth century.
The earliest written records about Indians who were on the Yadkin River in Piedmont North Carolina name four small tribes, all of Siouan origin. They were the Sauras, the Saponas, the Tutelos, and the Keyauwee. There may have been another tribe or sub-tribe called the Yattken.
Daniel Boone was about seventeen years of age when his family moved to the Yadkin River in North Carolina about 1752. A hunter and explorer, he must have been very pleased with the excellent hunting here. He is said to have made a statement late in life to the effect that the Forks of the Yadkin was the best hunting area he ever saw.
On August 14, 1756, Daniel boone, age twenty-two, married Rebecca Bryan, age seventeen. She was the daughter of Joseph Bryan, oldest son of Morgan Bryan, Sr., who came to the Yadkin in 1748. Squire Boone, who was justice of the peace, performed the ceremony. Tradition tells that Daniel and Rebecca first lived in a cabin in Squire Boone’s yard. It is said that they lived for about ten years near the fork of Sugartree (or Sugar) Creek some two miles east of Farmington on the present Bryant Smith farm on Rainbow Road.
At the time of the Revolutionary War, about one third of the American colonists were Patriots straining for independence. Another third were Tories or Loyalists, faithful to British rule. The remaining third were unconcerned. This division, and the turmoil and bitterness implicit in it, held true in Davie County and much of the Piedmont, even though North Carolina was one of the first colonies to work for independence.
On October 14, 1780, occurred the first of two battles near the Shallow Ford crossing of the Yadkin River. The site is in Yadkin County about three miles up the river from the Davie-Yadkin line, and while neither battle was in Davie County, each involved and affected Davie County people. This first engagement, entirely a Patriot-Tory fight, is known as the Battle of Shallow Ford or Battle Branch and occurred a short distance west of the ford in present Yadkin County. Apparently, the Tories in the Yadkin River area, taking advantage of the fact that many of the Patriot forces had gone toward Charlotte to help stop Cornwallis, rose in force to overrun the area. The Tory forces, numbering some 300, were commanded by Colonel Gideon Wright of Surry County. After passing through Bethabra, this Tory army headed for the Shallow Ford and Rowan County, intending to pass through the present Davie. Near the Shallow Ford in Yadkin County, the Tories were attacked by Major Cloyd with approximately 160 Virginia and Carolina militia. Fourteen or fifteen (the records differ) Tories were killed and four were wounded. The others fled.
Letters of the Civil War years reflect homesickness, despair, and hardship of both soldiers and families. Soldiers wanted to learn every bit of information from home and inquired not only of family and friends, but also of the church, farms, crops, and cattle. They often asked for clothing and food to be sent to them by someone returning to their unit from a furlough home.
Pinkney Turner, a private in Jesse A. Clement’s company, with Lee’s Army in Virginia, wrote frequently to Dr. James McGuire of Mocksville. He reminisced and re-kindled interest in the everyday simple things past. Turner wrote that he would like to “help with harvest,” that “your corn husking will be this week and I would like much to be at it,” and that he would like “to see the old house…” Turner asked Dr. McGuire to send him a pair of boots specifying, “I want them double soled and put up altogether of good material with high legs – and in short – a good durable pair suitable for winter. I will enclose the measure in this letter – I am not particular about the price….the whole string is the length of my foot and to the knot near one end is the thickness…”
Pinkney Turner was a first cousin of Dr. McGuire. Approximately the same age, they lived near each other and were close friends. After the war, Turner lived near the present Hardison Methodist Church, where he farmed, operated a cane mill (molasses) in season, and did cabinet work.