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Home: Regional: U.S. States: North Carolina: Forsyth County

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Rowan County Evolution and the Moravians
Posted by: Matt Wallace (ID *****1926) Date: April 06, 2003 at 23:27:58
In Reply to: Anyone recognize this? by RICHARD JOHNSON of 538

[NOTE: This message is cross-posted in the NC Genealogy Forum and the relevant County Forums.]

From the references below and what I recall from a book, "The Formation of the North Carolina Counties, 1663-1943" by David Leroy Corbitt (if memory serves), the following discussion is complete and accurate to the best of my knowledge. Also note that, for the sake of clarity, I have focused on the larger changes and have omitted subsequent minor adjustments to the various county boundaries. In other words, I think this is mostly correct but be aware that it may contain errors or omissions.

The original Rowan County was formed in 1753 from the northern portion of the original Anson County. The northern boundary was the NC/VA border. The eastern boundary was the western boundary of the original Orange County which apparently ran through the center of the modern counties of Rockingham, Guilford, and Randolph (all formed from the original Guilford County) The southern boundary was the same as the line drawn westward by the southern boundaries of the modern counties of Randolph, Davidson, Rowan, and Iredell. The western boundary was indeterminate.

In 1771, the original Guilford County was formed from the western edge of the original Orange County and the eastern edge of the original Rowan County. The 1771 Guilford/Rowan boundary corresponds to the line that separates Stokes/Forsyth/Davidson counties from Rockingham/Guilford/Randolph counties.

Also in 1771, the original Surry County was formed from the northern portion of the original Rowan County. The boundaries were mostly the same as the outer boundaries of the four modern counties which were formed from the area: Surry, Stokes, Forsyth, and Yadkin.

In 1789, the original Stokes County was formed from the eastern half of the original Surry County. The western half of the original Surry County retained the name.

In 1849, the original Stokes County was split into northern and southern sections. The northern section became the modern Stokes County, and the southern section became the modern Forsyth County.

In 1850, the second Surry County was also split into northern and southern sections. The northern section became the modern Surry County, and the southern section became the modern Yadkin County. The Yadkin River formed the common boundary.

With the formation of original counties of Wilkes (1777), Burke (1777), and Lincoln (1779), the second Rowan County’s western boundary was set. The boundaries were mostly the same as the outer boundaries of the four modern counties which were formed from the area: Rowan, Iredell, Davidson, and Davie.

In 1788, Iredell County was formed from the western third of the second Rowan County. The eastern two-thirds of the second Rowan County retained the name.

In 1822, Davidson County was formed from the eastern half of the third Rowan County. The western half of the third Rowan County retained the name. The Yadkin River formed the common boundary.

In 1836, Davie County was formed from the smaller portion of the fourth Rowan County which was north of the South Yadkin River. The larger, southern portion became the modern Rowan County.

References:
North Carolina County Development
(A chart from State Library of North Carolina)
http://statelibrary.dcr.state.nc.us/iss/gr/counties.htm

NORTH CAROLINA FORMATION OF COUNTIES
(A collection of maps)
http://www.rootsweb.com/~nccatawb/countyfm.htm

FORMATION OF NORTH CAROLINA COUNTIES
(Another chart)
http://www.martygrant.com/gen/refs/nccounty.htm


“Moravian lands,” etc. is obviously a reference to Wachovia, the 98,985 acre land grant bought in 1753 by the Moravians, an ethnic German, Protestant religious sect, from Lord John Carteret, 2nd Earl of Granville. The boundaries of Wachovia fall completely with in the boundaries of today’s Forsyth County (Please refer to “Wachovia Tract Map” linked below.), as well as, in their turns, the historical counties of Stokes and Rowan, but not Surry as detailed below.

The southern boundary of Wachovia corresponds to the majority of the current Forsyth/Davidson county line, but this boundary does not correspond with the boundary formed by the 1771 division of the first Rowan County. When the original Surry County was formed, the Surry/Rowan county line was the same as the modern Yadkin/Davie county line extended eastward to Guilford County. This boundary split Wachovia between the two counties.

When the original Stokes County was formed in 1789, the Stokes/Rowan county line was adjusted such that Wachovia was entirely in Stokes County; that is, the portion of the Wachovia boundary south of the original Surry/Rowan county line became part of the new Stokes/Rowan county line. The portions of the original Surry/Rowan county line that ran between Wachovia and Guilford County in the east and between Wachovia and the Yadkin River in the west completed the new Stokes/Rowan county line. This boundary survived the formation of both Davidson County in 1822 and Forsyth County in 1849.

The eastern and western extensions of the modern Forsyth/Davidson county line are adjustments in Forsyth County’s favor made since 1849. The eastern extension was created by a transfer of a sliver of northeastern Davidson County to the Abbotts Creek township in southeastern Forsyth County; I think this occurred during the first quarter of the 1900s. The western extension was created by a transfer of the northwestern horn of Davidson County to form Forsyth County’s southwestern corner; I think this occurred between the Civil War and 1900. This horn’s boundaries were the Yadkin River on the west, the Wachovia tract on the east, the new western extension of the Forsyth/Davidson county line on the south, and the old Forsyth/Davidson county line on the north. This addition is now Forsyth County’s Clemmonsville township though its eastern boundary was nudged slightly eastward to the Muddy Creek.

Muddy Creek is a primary tributary of the Yadkin River. Its headwaters lie just northeast of King in southwestern Stokes County. It flows south through western Forsyth County and into the northwesternmost corner of Davidson County where it enters the Yadkin River. Most of Muddy Creek’s course lies just inside the western boundary of the Wachovia tract.

All that being said, the only portion of 1780's Rowan County that could lie “on a branch of Muddy Creek” and join “the Moravian lands and the county line” is present-day Forsyth County’s Clemmonsville township. The “county line” referred to has to be the Surry/Rowan line between the Muddy Creek on the east and the Yadkin River on the west. This boundary became the Stokes/Rowan line in 1789, the Stokes/Davidson line in 1822, and the Forsyth/Davidson line in 1849; it survives today as Clemmonsville township’s northern border.

There are two other possibilities, but both are unlikely. The eastern branches of the Muddy Creek in 1780's Rowan County near the Surry/Rowan line would be in Wachovia which could hardly be considered “vacant land” as it belonged to the Moravians. Even less likely is that the claim was located in present-day northwestern Davidson County, say the Arcadia community, as this is too far south to be on the Surry/Rowan line.

Most likely, Gardner Green’s claim was in the vicinity of present-day Clemmons in southwestern Forsyth County.

References:
The Moravians Come To North Carolina
http://www.home-moravian.org/info/history.htm

The Moravian Church’s History
http://www.moravian.org/history/

Moravian Archives, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
http://www.moravianarchives.org/

Wachovia Tract Map
http://www.moravianarchives.org/map.htm


Hope this has been helpful.

-- Matt Wallace

James Matthew Wallace Institute for Genealogical Research
URL: http://www.CompleatHeretic.com/genes/
The genealogy web site of a severely disturbed individual
E-mail: JMWallaceIGR@yahoo.com


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