The first documented gold discovery in the United States was here in present-day Cabarrus County, North Carolina in 1799. The discovery by a little boy playing in Little Meadow Creek led to gold fever in the area. Numerous gold mines were dug and mined to various levels of success.
In fact, there was enough gold found in the southern piedmont of North Carolina that a branch of the United States Mint was built in Charlotte in 1836 and 1837. It opened for the production of gold coins in 1837.
A trip to the National Archives at Atlanta (which is in the Atlanta suburb of Morrow, Georgia) a few years ago gave me the opportunity to look at ledger books from the Mint in Charlotte. Within those pages I recognized names from my community.
I’m blogging about some of that information today to give you an example of the type of documented local history I included in Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 2. Although the book (and Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1) concentrate on Harrisburg, both books do include articles about other communities in Township One.
One of the communities rich in history in the township is Pioneer Mills. Little more than a quiet crossroads now, it was a center of activity in the mid-1800s after the discovery of gold and the opening of Pioneer Mills Gold Mine.
I recognized names such as John C. Barnhardt from the Pioneer Mills community as taking 123 ounces of amalgam to the Charlotte Mint on August 31, 1843, for which he was paid $2,340.33. That was no small sum of money in 1843!
Robert Harvey Morrison, on whose land the Pioneer Mills Gold Mine was located, was paid more than $4,000 for the gold bars and amalgam he took to the Mint from late in 1846 into early 1850.
Other names I recognized in the Mint ledgers included two other Barnhardts, Robert R. King, three men with the surname Treloar, and R.B. Northrop.
Comparing US Census records, Charlotte Mint records, and various years of Branson Business Directories helped me get a better idea of what the Pioneer Mills Community must have looked like 150 to 180 years ago. There was a general store, a dry goods store, a blacksmith, a school, and a post office, In 1869, Pioneer Mills Community had three physicians.
Gold mining brought people from Canada, Great Britain, and New York to Pioneer Mills. Gold mining, no doubt, brought some undesirable people into the community, which led the wife of the pastor of Rocky River Presbyterian Church to say in the early 1870s that Pioneer Mills “is no place for a preacher’s son!”
If you’d like to read more about the history and people of Cabarrus County, North Carolina, you might enjoy Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Books 1 and 2. They are available in paperback at Second Look Books in Harrisburg and in paperback and for Kindle from Amazon.
By the way, you can visit the research room at the National Archives at Atlanta (in Morrow, Georgia) by appointment only. Visit the website for more information: https://www.archives.gov/atlanta.
Until my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read.
I hope you spend time with family and good friends.
And, as always, remember the people of Ukraine and count your blessings.
In case you think I’m spending too much time this month blogging about our local history, just keep in mind that May is an important month of historical events in Cabarrus County, North Carolina.
My May 2, 2022 blog post, __#OnThisDay: 251st Anniversary of 1771 Gunpowder Plot__ was about patriots’ blowing up the king’s munitions just off the Great Wagon Road in present-day Cabarrus County.
Today, my blog is about the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence in 1775 while present-day Cabarrus County was part of Mecklenburg County and its citizens played just as important a role in the declaration as anyone living in what is present-day Mecklenburg County.
Friday, May 20, 2022 was the 247th anniversary of the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.
But what about the 1775 Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence?
I blogged about the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence on May 21, 2018. To refresh your memory, or to introduce you to the topic if you aren’t aware of it, the following nine paragraphs are reblogged from that post:
My immigrant ancestors were among the Scottish Presbyterian pioneers who settled old Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Years of discontent in the American colonies were piled on top of the anti-British Crown feelings they brought with them across the Atlantic.
Weary of unfair taxes imposed by the Crown and the discrimination they were subjected to as Presbyterians slowly brought the settlers to the boiling point. An example of the persecution these Presbyterians felt were the Vestry and Marriage Acts of 1769. Those acts fined Presbyterian ministers who dared to conduct marriage ceremonies. Only Anglican marriages were recognized by the government.
In May of 1771 a group of young men from the Rocky River Presbyterian Church congregation in the part of Mecklenburg County that later became Cabarrus County, disguised themselves by blackening their faces and under the cover of darkness ambushed a shipment of Royal munitions traveling north on the Great Wagon Road. The supplies were destined for Rowan County to put down the Regulator Movement.
Blowing up three wagons loaded with gunpowder and other supplies, the teens and young men who perpetrated the deed were declared outlaws by the Royal Governor and had to go into hiding until May 20, 1775 when all the citizens of Mecklenburg County were declared to be rebels against the British Crown.
On May 20, 1775, the citizens of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina declared themselves to be free and independent of the rule of Great Britain. It was a sober and sobering declaration not entered into lightly. Those American patriots meant business, and they knew the risks they were taking.
Archibald McCurdy, an Elder in Rocky River Presbyterian Church, heard the document read from the steps of the log courthouse in Charlotte. When he got home, he and his wife, Maggie, listed everyone they knew of who could be trusted in the coming fight for American independence.
No original copies of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence survive today. The local copy was lost in a house fire at the home of one of the signers. The copy taken to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia by Captain James Jack on horseback was also lost. Later, signers of the document recreated it from memory.
Nevertheless, those of us who were raised on stories of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and the brave souls who risked their lives to sign it know that the document was real. The blood of the American patriots still flows in our veins and their spirit of freedom still beats in our hearts.
Don’t mess with our freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, or our freedom of assembly!
Until my next blog post
I’m considering taking a week off from writing my blog, unless something interesting comes along and begs to be written. Next Monday, May 30, is Memorial Day in the United States of America. It is a day to remember all the men and women who have lost their lives while serving in the armed forces of the United States.
I hope you have a good book to read until I blog again on June 6.
Take time for a relaxing hobby and spend some time with friends and family.
When the first week of May rolls around every year, I’m reminded of a bold, dangerous, and exciting event in our local history in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. It dates back to the early days of the American Revolution. In fact, it predates the American Declaration of Independence by five years. Most Americans have never heard of it.
As the Regulator Movement reached the boiling point in Alamance County, North Carolina in April 1771, word came to the Rocky River Community in present-day Cabarrus County (but then part of Mecklenburg County) that a shipment of gunpowder was on its way from Charleston, South Carolina to General Waddell in Salisbury (in Rowan County.)
Knowing that the gunpowder was destined to be used to put down the Regulator Movement in counties north of Mecklenburg, eight or nine youths and young men from the Rocky River Presbyterian congregation put their heads together and designed a plan to make sure the gunpowder never reached General Waddell.
While making plans in secret to intercept the gunpowder shipment, the young men took cover from a late April 1771 thunderstorm in the springhouse on the Andrew Logan farm near where Reedy Creek now passes under Lower Rocky River Road.
Not all sources agree on the names or even the number of conspirators, but it is believed they were as follows, based on the sworn testimony of James Ashmore: James White, Jr.; John White, Jr.; William White; Robert (Bob) Caruthers (who was married to a sister of James White, Jr.); Robert Davis; Benjamin Cochran; William White (cousin of the other Whites and son of the “Widow White”); James Ashmore; and Joshua Hadley, a half-brother of James Ashmore.
One source credits Joshua Hadley with producing a New Testament on which each one swore that if anyone should ever divulge their plot that a ball might be shot through his heart and his soul sent to the lowest hell. Furthermore, they swore that if one of them ever revealed the names of the participants, he might die where no one should see him and that he should be denied a Christian burial.
Three munitions wagons from Charleston arrived in Charlotte but, upon learning that the gunpowder was destined to be used to put down the Regulators in Alamance and Rowan counties, the teamsters refused to take the munitions any further. It is said that Militia Colonel Moses Alexander had difficulty securing volunteers to take the wagons on to Salisbury.
An informant took word to the conspirators at Rocky River that the wagons were in Charlotte and they would stop for the night at the muster grounds near the present-day intersection of US-29 and Poplar Tent Road in Concord. (Since US-29 essentially follows the route of The Great Wagon Road, that’s the route the wagons would have taken to Salisbury.)
Thursday, May 2, 1771
The conspirators met at the home of James White, Sr. They blackened their faces to disguise themselves and set out for the muster grounds. They cut across the county and sometime on the night of May 2, 1771, converged on Phifer’s old muster grounds.
Can’t you just image those teenage boys and young men nervously waiting from a vantage point near the muster grounds? Can’t you imagine their hearts pounding as they ran down the hill and approached the wagons?
It is thought that James White, Jr. was the ringleader. The signal was given! The band of patriots surprised the guards! One of the teamsters was James Caruthers. He recognized his brother, Bob, as one of the attackers. In a low voice he said, “You’ll rue this, Bob.”
“Hold your tongue, Jim,” came his brother’s reply.
The conspirators moved the guards and teamsters to safety. They emptied the wagons and put the gunpowder and blankets in a pile. A train of powder was laid. James White, Jr., fired his pistol into the train.
The resulting explosion was heard nine miles away in the vicinity of Rocky River Presbyterian Church. Some people thought it was thunder, while others mistook it for an earthquake.
It is said that James White, Jr. carried a scar for the rest of his life where a flying stave from one of the gunpowder barrels hit him above his eye and cut to the bone before he could run from the explosion.
The conspirators got home the best way they could in the wee hours of Friday, May 3, cleaned themselves up, and said nothing of their overnight adventure.
The Battle of Alamance took place on May 16, 1771, and the Regulator Movement in North Carolina was effectively put down by the royal government. Gov. William Tryon proclaimed on May 17 that he would pardon the rebels if they would turn themselves in by May 21. Bad weather and other circumstances prompted Tryon to postpone the deadline.
Some of the Regulators were put on trial on May 30. The trial was expected to last three weeks. No doubt, news of all this was moving up and down the Great Wagon Road and the conspirators from Rocky River were anxiously awaiting the outcome.
Giving in to exhaustion, at one point some of the gunpowder conspirators set out for Hillsborough to take the governor up on his offer of pardon. Before they reached their destination, they were warned that it was a trick and were told the Governor Tryon intended to hang them. Some returned to the canebrakes of Reedy Creek, while others fled to Georgia and Virginia.
June 11, 1771
Governor Tryon proclaimed that he knew some of the rebels in the colony wanted to turn themselves in, so he extended the deadline by which they could do so to July 10, except for “all the Outlaws, the Prisoners, all those concerned in blowing up General Waddell’s Ammunition in Mecklenburg County” and sixteen named Regulators.
The Governor sensed that he was losing control of North Carolina. He wanted the young men who destroyed his gunpowder brought to justice, but he didn’t know who they were.
In mid- to late-June, the Regulators’ trial came to a close. Twelve Regulators were tried and found guilty of high treason. Six were hanged while the other six waited for the King to decide their fate.
Perhaps word of the Regulator trial results reached Rocky River, or maybe James Ashmore and Joshua Hadley simply feared that one of the other conspirators would disclose their identities. For whatever reason, Ashmore and Hadley went independently to tell Colonel Moses Alexander (who lived on a plantation at the present-day site of Charlotte Motor Speedway) what they knew.
Imagine their surprise when they ran into each other on Colonel Alexander’s front porch!
The two half-brothers jockeyed for position. James Ashmore eventually pushed his way into the house and told Col. Alexander that he was ready to talk.
June 22, 1771
James Ashmore was taken to Charlotte, where he gave a sworn deposition before Thomas Polk, a Mecklenburg County Justice of the Peace. That’s when things went from bad to worse for the conspirators.
In his deposition, Ashmore told Polk how the conspirators had met at Andrew Logan’s old plantation after James McCaul advertised a sale or something to be held there. It was there that James White, Jr. asked Ashmore if he would be interested in helping to blow up the gunpowder shipment.
Ashmore said in his deposition that he was asked in the planning stages if he thought there was any harm in blowing up the gunpowder. He said he didn’t see any harm in it. He said the next morning between ten and eleven o’clock he stopped working on his plantation and went three-quarters of a mile to look for his horses.
Ashmore claimed it was there that he met six men on the road “who in appearance resembled Indians.” One was either recognized or identified himself as James White, Jr. White persuaded Ashmore to come back and join them after taking his horses home and recruiting his half-brother, Joshua Hadley.
They joined the men later about a half-mile from the Ashmore home. It was at that point in the deposition that Ashmore named six men with whom he and Hadley assembled.
Ashmore’s deposition goes on to describe the attack on the munitions wagons and how the conspirators had been sworn to secrecy.
Once the names were revealed, the search for the men began in earnest. As stated earlier, some escaped to Georgia and Virginia. Others hid the canebrakes of Reedy Creek in the vicinity of the bridge on present-day Lower Rocky River Road where the women of Rocky River Presbyterian Church took them food and clothing.
When in need of something, one of the young men would pop up in a ravine and whistle. Nearby resident of around 40 years of age, William Spears, would acknowledge the fugitive by removing his hat. He would then walk off in the opposite direction so he would not be seen as aiding the conspirators.
Agnes Spears, William’s wife, would then take them food. For nearly one year the women of Rocky River Presbyterian Church fed and concealed the young men who took refuge along the banks of Reedy Creek. The authorities would never think to question the women because they couldn’t imagine that the women of the community had anything to do with the plot or its aftermath.
The Rev. Hezekiah James Balch openly prayed for the safety of the young men from the pulpit of Rocky River Presbyterian Church.
The participants in the gunpowder plot were fugitives until independence was declared. After the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was issued on May 20, 1775, all Mecklenburg County citizens were considered to be in rebellion. After the Declaration, the conspirators were finally able to move about as freely as anyone else and prepare to fight in the coming Revolutionary War.
When May 2 and July 4 roll around every year, think about those brave young men from Rocky River who risked their lives to help gain our freedom in America.
Since my last blog post
Is it me, or are the weeks just flying by? I’m hard-pressed to remember what I’ve done since last Monday. I just know I’ve been busy. I visited a bookstore in downtown Concord, North Carolina on Friday. More on that in next week’s blog post. I’ve done some reading and quite a bit of brainstorming over the plot of my novel-in-progress. I work out many of the plot twists and some of the dialog while on my daily walks.
Yesterday we celebrated “May Meeting” at Rocky River Presbyterian Church. The tradition started as early as 1757. On the first Sunday in May, present members of the congregation, others associated with the church throughout its history, and other visitors from the community gather for worship, the Lord’s Supper, and Dinner in the Grove. It’s been a mainstay in my life since 1953.
We had perfect weather for Dinner in the Grove. Everyone brings food and spreads it out on a long four-foot-wide wire “table” that’s put up just for such occasions. It’s fun to try a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Some people bring special dishes they’re known for. There’s always good food and fellowship as we all eat together. After having an abbreviated version during the Covid-19 pandemic, it was exciting this year to get back to the way it used to be.
Until my next blog post
My blog post next Monday will be about some of the books I read in April.
I hope you have at least one good book to read and a hobby to enjoy.
The American Civil War began on April 12, 1861, when southerners fired on Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Fort Sumter was, of course, a United States military fort on the coast of South Carolina.
The American Civil War was the culmination of the falling apart of a nation.
Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his troops to US Gen. U.S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865, but fighting continued for a while west of the Mississippi River. U.S President Andrew Johnson declared the war over in all states but Texas on April 2, 1866. After accepting the new state constitution for Texas, President Johnson officially declared the insurrection over on August 20, 1866.
The exact number of deaths in the American Civil War is unknown, but it seems to be agreed upon that it was at least 620,000 and as high as 750,000.
In 1999, I compiled a booklet, “Rocky River Presbyterian Church and the War Between the States,” about how the American Civil War affected Rocky River Presbyterian Church in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. Established in 1751, in 1860 the congregation had 616 members. 440 of them were White and 176 of them were Black. The congregation lost 72 men in the Civil War. Their average age was 28. The youngest was 16 and the oldest was 44. Of the 72 who died, 52 died between January 1862 and November 1863. I’ve tried to imagine what an emotional impact that had on this farming community, but I can’t.
I researched each of the 72 men and boys in published genealogies, church records, census records, etc. in an effort to put names and real people on the statistics. Some families were hit especially hard, losing several sons.
Another local loss
In addition to the numerical and economic loss those 72 men and boys cost the congregation, the war resulted in a radical and racial change in the church’s make up. In 2004, I compiled another booklet, “Slaves and Free Blacks Known to be Associated with Rocky River Presbyterian Church Prior to 1870.” My purpose was to compile in one document all known records about the slaves and free Blacks who were communing and/or baptized members of the congregation from the earliest extant church records (1835) through 1870.
I was astounded when the project was finished to find that I had a list of 917 slaves and 11 free Blacks. In addition to the church membership rolls and Session disciplinary trial minutes, I searched the 1860 and 1863 Cabarrus County Tax Assessment Lists – which listed every slave living in the county at those times—and the US Census records for Cabarrus County from 1870 and 1880. (By the way, the county tax assessment lists recorded not only the names of each slave under his or her master’s name, but also included each slave’s age, physical condition, and value. They are sobering documents.)
In 1867, present-day Bellefonte Presbyterian Church was formed by former Black members of Rocky River. The White pastor of Rocky River, being a product of the place and time, was hurt when the Black members of his congregation chose to go two or three miles up the road to establish their own church. Unfortunately, he saw them as children who didn’t know what they were doing. He didn’t understand why they didn’t want to stay at Rocky River and continue to sit in the balcony while the White members sat downstairs on the main floor of the sanctuary. No wonder they left! That’s easy for us to see today.
How racism continues to this day
Southerners tend to romanticize about the Civil War, but I doubt there was anything romantic about it at the time. The wives, mothers, sisters, and younger brothers were left behind to try to farm the best they could, not knowing when or if their loved ones would come home. I would not have wanted to be alive during that time.
All four of my great-grandfathers and one of my great-great-grandfathers fought on the losing side in the American Civil War. They were farmers in North Carolina. They did not own slaves. In trying to put myself in their places in that place and time, I can’t help but think they didn’t have much choice in joining the North Carolina Troops when the war began.
One was a boy of 16, no doubt out on a bit of an adventure with his neighborhood friends in the same company. He wrote letters to his parents and sister asking them to send him socks. One was in the 1st NC Cavalry and survived a severe head wound at Gettysburg that left him with headaches and a convulsive disorder for the rest of his life. One had restricted use of one of his arms for the rest of his life due to injuries sustained in the Seven Days Battle of Richmond. One was in Charleston at the end of the war and walked the 200 miles home. One of my great-great-grandfathers was a man in his early 50s – much too old to go off to war, but that’s what he did. It’s hard to find the romance in any of that. They came home defeated, with perhaps a little worthless Confederate currency, only to have to go back to eking out a living by farming in a broken economy.
They were not the ones who built monuments to Confederate leaders. They did not raise the Confederate battle flag by their houses to show their Southern pride. They just went back to the hard-working lives they’d known since birth and tried to live out their lives as law-abiding American citizens.
I don’t know what any of those five ancestors of mine thought about race. I can’t sit in judgment of any of my ancestors any more than I can take credit for anything good they accomplished in their lives. Each of us is accountable for our own ideas, beliefs, and actions.
Where do we go from here?
Until Americans have an honest discussion about slavery and the ramifications of it… until people across the country study the facts and recognize that slavery existed in some northern states… until people across the country realize that northern states benefitted from the slavery in the South because the slaves picked the cotton that was sent to northern textile mills to be turned into fabric for people there to sell and wear at a low cost due to slavery… until people across the country accept each other and fight for all citizens to have the same rights and chances to excel… until as individuals we admit our prejudices and have the courage to speak up when we see racial injustice… I’m afraid the American Civil War will never be over.
My heart sinks at the sight of the Confederate battle flag because, to people of color, it is a symbol of hate. I didn’t see it that way when I was growing up because I was White, but I do now. When you know better, you should do better.
As Americans, it’s easy for us to sit back, protected by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west and criticize the Arabs and Jews in Israel holding grudges over wrongs committed centuries ago, but many Americans are unwilling to forgive and forget when it comes to our own Civil War after 160 years. We can’t see the plank in our own eye because we’re concentrating on the speck in someone else’s eye.
Since my last blog post
We finally got to bring our diabetic dog home from the hospital last Thursday. He was hospitalized for eight days with bronchial pneumonia. We’re so thankful for the good care he received at CARE (Charlotte Animal Referral & Emergency) once again.
Until my next blog post
Continue to celebrate D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read) Month. I hope you have at least one good book to read this week.
Make time for a hobby.
Note: The two booklets I referenced in today’s blog, “Rocky River Presbyterian Church and the War Between the States” and “Slaves and Free Blacks Known to be Associated with Rocky River Presbyterian Church Prior to 1870,” are available through http://www.JanetMorrisonBooks.com. Click on “Rocky River Presbyterian Church Booklets.”
This week’s writing prompt for Rae’s #TwoForTuesday blog post was a real challenge for me. I don’t tend to read books with flowery language, so I was stumped for a few days. If you’re interested in participating in Rae’s #TwoForTuesday blog post prompts or want to read what other participants are saying, go to Rae’s blog at https://educatednegra.blog/2019/04/01/april-two-for-tuesday-prompts.
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
Many novels of the 1800s would qualify for today’s
#TwoForTuesday prompt, but I decided to go with A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. You need go no further than
the preface to know you’re in for some flowery language.
“I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise
the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with
themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their
houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it. Their faithful Friend and
Servant, C.D., December, 1843.”
The Presbyterian Congregation on Rocky River, by Dr. Thomas Hugh
The first book that came to mind for today’s topic is an excellent nonfiction book by Dr. Thomas Hugh Spence, Jr. You might be familiar with it if you live in the Charlotte area or have ancestors who were or are part of that congregation. It’s a history of Rocky River Presbyterian Church called The Presbyterian Congregation on Rocky River.
Dr. Spence’s father was the pastor of Rocky River Presbyterian Church in Cabarrus County, North Carolina in the 1910s, and Dr. Spence loved that church. He did a yeoman’s job of researching the first 200 years of the life of the congregation. The flowery language Dr. Spence sprinkled throughout this 1954 book endear it to me all the more because it demonstrates his abiding love for the congregation.
After the preface, is a page about the Rocky River and the first
church that took the river’s name. I think you’ll agree that the language is a
“The waters of more than two centuries have followed the course of Rocky River toward the Eastern Sea since the vanguard of the Scotch-Irish settled along its banks and branches…. The foundations were laid beyond the seas, amid the verdant valleys of Ulster, or, even earlier, upon the heathered hills of Scotland. But there is no uncertainty in regard to that staunch and sturdy race who made their way across the Atlantic, settled for a season in Pennsylvania, and then resumed the march to rest only intermittently until the Yadkin had been forded and the region of Rocky River attained.”
(This book is available from the Rocky River Presbyterian Church office at 7940 Rocky River Road, Concord, NC 28025. You may contact the church office at 704-455-2479 or firstname.lastname@example.org for details. The church’s website is http://rockyriver.org/.)
Are you a fan of Brunswick Stew? I’ve been eating Brunswick Stew since I was a small child. The first Brunswick Stew I ate was at Robinson Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.
A few years later, the Men of the Church at Rocky River Presbyterian in Concord, North Carolina started making Brunswick Stew for our congregation every October. In the beginning, we’d say, “It’s good, but not as good as Robinson’s.” Gradually, the recipe or technique of stirring it for hours in a cast iron pot over an open fire improved and we started saying, “This is as good as Robinson’s.”
Times have changed since I was a child. A year or two ago, barbecue was added for those who don’t like Brunswick Stew. Desserts are included now. Everything is free, unless you want to purchase additional stew or barbecue to take home.
Saturday was the annual Brunswick Stew at Rocky River Presbyterian. It used to just be something the Men of the Church did for the congregation. The event has evolved into a fall festival for the community with games and other activities for the children. I assisted my sister in giving tours of our 157-year-old sanctuary.
Attendance was great this year (estimated at 300-400) and the weather was beautiful. After the rain and wind on Thursday from the remains of Hurricane Michael, everyone enjoyed a chance to get outside and do something besides pick up limbs. There were children and families all over the church grove playing games and painting pumpkins.
The stew this year was perhaps the best it’s ever been. Sometimes I think someone thinks black pepper has not been added to the pot, so that someone adds black pepper. Once it’s been added twice, it’s too much for my taste. One year it tasted like someone had veered off the recipe and sneaked some cumin in the pot. That was worse than the time there was too much pepper. This year it was delicious! This year it was perfect!
Don’t mess with the Brunswick Stew, guys! Don’t mess with the Brunswick Stew!
I wanted to include the recipe for Rocky River Presbyterian Brunswick Stew, but it got skewed no matter what I did. Suffice it to say it contains beef, chicken, chicken broth, corn, lima beans, tomatoes, salt, and pepper.
If you’d like to have the exact recipe, leave a comment below and I’ll gladly give you the details. The stew freezes well.
The Men of the Church hold the secret to the method of cooking the stew. It is cooked in a cast iron stew pot over a fire in the parking lot behind the fellowship hall.
Since my last blog post
I’ve worked a little on genealogy. Finding that the original handwritten deeds for the land one of my ancestors purchased in the 1760s have been digitized was a wonderful find because the originals had faded to the point that they couldn’t be read at all. It is amazing how technology makes history come alive.
Until my next blog post
I hope you have a good book or two to read. I’m still reading My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie. (Give me a break. It’s 642 pages!)
If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.
Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.
Let’s continue the conversation. Does Brunswick Stew sound like something you would eat? Have you eaten it? Does the community or culture you were raised in or have lived in have a dish similar to the one I’ve described?
The first Monday of August has suddenly arrived, so it’s time for me to tell you about the books I read in July. I read a variety of books, including fiction and nonfiction.
Under the Skin, by Vicki Lane
I purchased this book a couple of years ago after reading Vicki Lane’s first four books in her Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries. If you follow my blog, you know I get my books almost exclusively from the public library. Library books keep piling up and causing me to postpone reading the books I own. I bought the paperback edition of Under the Skin at a wonderful independent bookstore in Asheville, NC. I dare you to go into Malaprop’s Bookstore & Cafe and leave without buying at least one book. It’s a great bookstore, but I digress.
When July came, I decided I was going to read Under the Skin, even if it meant returning a library book unread. In this book, Elizabeth Goodweather is visited by her sister who convinces her to attend séances at a nearby spa. The sister is hoping to make contact with her deceased husband. All sorts of problems pop up as it becomes clear that the sister is being stalked.
Chapters more or less alternate between this present-day tale and a story about two sisters at the same historic spa in the mountains of North Carolina in the 1880s. The present-day story held my interest more than the 19th century tale, but that’s just my personal observation.
My Beautiful Broken Shell was recommended to me by my librarian sister. It is a small book about how most seashells get tossed about and broken, but so do we humans. The author encourages us to embrace our brokenness.
I’m broken in many ways and sometimes I’m more than a little rough around the edges.
Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover
This is an entertaining memoir of a woman who was raised by strict Mormon parents in the middle of nowhere in Idaho. Her father is bipolar, and Ms. Westover does an excellent job of getting across to the reader just how unnerving being the child of a person with that malady can be. Tara’s mother reluctantly becomes a midwife at her husband’s insistence. The occupation gradually “grows on her” and she seems to like it.
I don’t want to give away too much of this true story. Suffice it to say that Tara goes from being “no-schooled” at home to attain amazing things in education.
Words We Carry: Essays of Obsession and Self-Esteem, by D.G. Kaye
I referred to this little book in my July 16, 2018 blog post, Words We Carry and White Privilege. That post probably left you with an overall good impression of the book. Although I liked the premise of the book, the latter part of the book came across to me as bordering on being Pollyanna while also being conflicting. The author writes about the importance of being your authentic self while recommending that you just put on some make up and act like everything is just fine.
Her parting message struck me as being akin put a smile on your face and a have positive outlook. That takes an enormous amount of energy for people with a chronic physical illness or depression.
Mysterious Tales of Coastal North Carolina, by Sherman Carmichael
This is a newly-published book from The History Press. I found it in the New Books Section at the public library.
The 170-page book is a collection of ghost stories from the 200-mile coast of the state along with a number of true accounts of ships being torpedoed and sunk by German U-boats during World War II.
I was familiar with a few of the ghost stories but most were new to me. The author did a good job of including just enough historical background about most of the places and stories. Each of the stories is one to three pages, making this a book that’s easy to pick up when you only have a few minutes to read.
I think I’ll purchase a copy to take along with me on my next trip to the coast.
A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community, by John Pavlovitz
Whether or not you agree with John Pavlovitz’s politics or his ideas for how to make church more responsive and Christ-like, I think you’ll find that his writing makes you think outside the box.
That said, Mr. Pavlovitz says a lot of things in his book, A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community, that I needed to hear and ponder. Much of what Mr. Pavlovitz said in this book brought to mind the recent capital campaign at Rocky River Presbyterian Church. That campaign was called “Growing God’s Table.”
We already had a sanctuary. We already had a building housing Sunday School rooms, offices, and an inadequate fellowship hall. What we needed was an expansion of our building that would incorporate more classrooms, an elevator to serve the old building as well as the expansion, and most of all — a much larger fellowship hall.
The new fellowship hall has made it possible for us to have monthly community free meals and other activities to which the public is invited. We’re growing God’s table at Rocky River Presbyterian Church, but we still have a long way to go. We are a work in progress. Mr. Pavlovitz’s book opened my eyes to even more possibilities.
Mr. Pavlovitz calls out Christians who are so busy “doing church” activities that they sometimes forget that forming relationships with people is the most important thing we should be doing. Sometimes we treat one another badly and sometimes we fail to treat strangers with the love and compassion demonstrated by Jesus Christ. We all need to make the table bigger. God’s table is big enough for everyone.
I purchased this ebook several months ago after following the author’s blog for quite some time. His blog, Stuff That Needs To Be Said (https://johnpavlovitz.com/,) is always thought-provoking.
Since my last blog post
I spent some time with long-time friends who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in Raleigh, NC. It was good to get away for several days, make some new friends, and reconnect with some people I hadn’t seen in a long time.
Until my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read. I’m trying to finish reading several books I started in July. You’ll find out in my September 3 blog post how that went.
If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.
Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments
A couple of weeks ago, it looked as if I would have no books to write about from my reading in June. As I blogged last week in Reading is not a contest!, reading is not a contest, but it was a competition of sorts I’d inflicted upon myself.
Every year I wanted to read more books than the one before. I was signing up for more annual reading challenges than I could easily complete. The good thing about reading challenges is that they prompt me to read books I wouldn’t otherwise read; however, the flip side is I don’t have time to read all the books I want to read.
The second half of June I got my reading juices going again, so today I will blog about the five books I read. (Don’t be too impressed; one of them was a small book of very easy reading.)
The Hellfire Club, by Jake Tapper
Jake Tapper is a well-known journalist and anchor for CNN. The Hellfire Club is his debut novel. Although I thought the first half of the book got too bogged down in the details of Washington, DC politics in 1954, the second half of the novel exploded and kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next.
Mr. Tapper did a marvelous job of giving 11 pages of his sources at the end of the book. A sign of a good historical novel is proof of research. In this list of sources Mr. Tapper is quick to remind the reader that the book is a work of fiction.
I couldn’t help but draw parallels in my mind between the ugly underbelly of politics in Washington, DC in 1954 and the mess we find ourselves in today. I don’t know if there is currently a hellfire club in the nation’s capital, but there is an alarming reticence on the part of members of Congress to speak up against the current barrage of lies coming from a house on Pennsylvania Avenue.
All-in-all, the subject matter of The Hellfire Club was a good read for me considering my background in political science and history.
Note to Self: Inspiring Words from Inspiring People, collected and introduced by Gayle King
This is a delightful collection of letters from the “CBS This Morning” TV show’s “Note to Self” project. Twenty-six of those letters are included in the book. Most of the contributors are famous people, but some were unknown to me.
It’s a great book choice for those times when you just have a few minutes to read, or when you don’t have the energy to remember the threads of an ongoing story. You can read each of the 26 letters in just several minutes.
The idea behind the project and this book is to have the adult you write a letter to your younger self. Anyone can do this. Why don’t you give it a try?
Summer Hours at the Robbers Library, by Sue Halpern
Sue Halpern is a journalist and novelist. This was the first of her books that I’ve read.
The title piqued my interest, since I’m an avid supporter of libraries. It is a story about a collection of unrelated people in a small town in New Hampshire who form bonds tighter than some people do with their parents and siblings.
The friends they all have in common are Kit (the librarian) and Sunny, who has been ordered to do community service at the library over the summer. Sunny is the “no-schooled” daughter of two free spirits, and this plays heavily in the book. Others in the book are primarily a group of retired men who pass their time at the library before going the cafeteria at the hospital for lunch. As the story develops, most of the characters are surprised by how close they’ve become.
This is not a gripping story, but if you’re looking for something light to read, you might consider checking it out at your local public library. Curious about the reviews it has received, I found that it averages three stars because readers have either given it five stars or one or two stars. Few people actually give it a solid three-star rating.
That made me realize that sometimes I’ll pick a book that has a three-star rating without looking more closely to see how that rating was determined.
Flat Broke with Two Goats: A Memoir of Appalachia, by Jennifer McGaha
At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to check out this book, but curiosity got the better of me. Once I started reading it, I wasn’t sure I would finish it. I like reading about strong, independent women – real or fictional. The author did not strike me as strong or independent early in this memoir, but I kept reading to see if she would become either.
I read the first five chapters. Jennifer and David lose their house to foreclosure and thousands of dollars in back taxes. Jennifer has no clue because David “handled” their finances. That’s when I started not liking the book.
Then Jennifer and David buy a 100-year-old mountain cabin. While Jennifer is back at the house packing some last minute things, a sheriff’s deputy arrives with a subpoena for David to appear in court. It turns out that David, unbeknownst to Jennifer (again), has borrowed thousands of dollars and failed to report the loan. That’s when I lost interest in the book. I also don’t particularly like books that portray Appalachia as a place on the back side of beyond.
I just got around to reading its reviews on https://www.goodreads.com and discovered that the book has received many one- and two-star ratings, so I’m in good company.
Look for Me, by Lisa Gardner
I started reading this book a couple of months ago but had to return it to the library before I had time to get very far into it. It is the second book I’ve read by Lisa Gardner. Look for Me is the latest book in her Detective D.D. Warren Series.
Look for Me is about a family that’s killed except for the 15-year-old daughter. She is missing. Did she escape? Was she kidnapped by the killer? Or is she the murderer?
The book delves into the foster child system in Massachusetts, as the Det. Warren works to try to find the missing teen and determine who murdered the girl’s family. When alcohol temporarily got the best of the mother a few years ago, Roxy and her younger siblings were placed in foster homes. The treatment they received in those homes and the gang activity they were exposed to at school enter into the investigation.
There are many twists and turns in this story, and you might be surprised when the murderer is revealed near the end of the book.
Look for Me did not hold my attention as much as the other novel I read by Lisa Gardner, Right Behind You from her FBI Profiler Series.
Since my last blog post
I’ve tried to lighten up on the demands I was making on myself. I returned a book to the library after only reading the first five chapters. That’s a big deal for someone who until recently thought she had to finish any book she started reading.
I’ve barely spent any time on Pinterest, and I’ve enjoyed the break.
I continue to declutter my life, letting go of lots of knitting, crocheting, and sundry handcraft instructions for projects that I no longer desire to make. Let’s face it. If the fashions from the 1960s-1980s come back in style, I really have no desire to learn how to make macrame plant hangers and belts or broomstick lace shawls.
Just for fun, I just searched for “macrame” on Google and the first image that came up was an $895 macrame dress that can be purchased at Saks Fifth Avenue. Perhaps I was too hasty in putting those instructions in the recycle bin! The odds of my making a macrame dress are less than slim to none, so I can only hope those instructions will get new lives as recycled paper.
I’ve done some additional research on several of the slaves who were members of Rocky River Presbyterian Church in Cabarrus County, North Carolina prior to and during the Civil War. More on that in a future blog post.
I also, in a roundabout way, got into the records of some local people who had to request a pardon from US President Andrew Johnson after the Civil War ended in 1865 and had to pledge their allegiance to the United States Government. More on that later, too. Interesting stuff with some surprising details.
The other day I revisited the 10-cents-per-item used book sale at the Harrisburg Branch of the Cabarrus County Public Library. I purchased several books I probably won’t ever read as well as a music CD that was apparently produced by First Union National Bank, which was my beloved bank until it was bought by Wachovia which was subsequently purchased by Wells Fargo. (Don’t get me started!) Anyway… This 10-cent CD is a fantastic collection of familiar works by Beethoven, Bach, Handel, Dubussy, Haydn, and Mozart.
Until my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read and some interesting research to do. Stay tuned. I can’t wait to see what I get to read and learn in July!
If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.
Visit your local public library this week. You never know what you can walk out of there with just by showing your free library card or what music CD you might get to buy for just 10 cents!
Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it!
I love to make plans. Ask me to plan a trip, and I’ll get into the minutiae of where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing every minute of the day.
My sister is my traveling buddy, and sometimes my attention to detail drives her crazy! On the other hand, she doesn’t enjoy planning trips so she doesn’t complain too much.
In my Reading Like a Writer blog post (“Reading Like a Writer”) on April 9, 2018, I told you that I had developed a social media plan. Making the plan was easy. The hard part came when I entered the implementation phase. Today’s blog post is about the Pinterest aspect of my plan.
That was a revelation for me. No more willy-nilly saving pins to my Recipes: Cheesecake Board! Since reading Amy Lynn Andrews’ Userletter, I’ve made myself save five pins to my writing-related Pinterest boards every day before pinning any recipes, quilts, or Maxine-isms.
Old habits are hard to break, so there is definitely a learning curve involved in this.
“When I started deleting my boards, Pinterest’s algorithms better learned the content of my niche, and my traffic grew.”
“I deleted my boards about food and entertainment, for example. Pinterest will be more likely to show your pins to people if the algorithms know what your site is about.”
“I read you’ll get better visibility at Pinterest if it’s clear to the site what your niche is. This makes sense. Search engines show your blog to people when they’re clear what you specialize in.”
That second quote from Janice Wald is a hard pill for me to swallow. I don’t want to give up my recipe and quilting boards. I could make them secret board that only I can see, but I had hoped that when someone looked at one of those boards they’d also notice I wrote a vintage postcard book (The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina) and I’m writing a historical novel (The Spanish Coin) set in the Carolinas in the 1760s.
I’ll have to give that some thought. For the time being, I have 80 boards on Pinterest.
What I’ve Accomplished on Pinterest since Last Monday
I’ve learned how to create my own pins for Pinterest on Canva.com. Those of you who know me, know that I am technologically challenged, so this was no minor feat for me. I am not getting compensated for mentioning Canva; however, I’ve been able to create some pretty cool graphics for free using that website, http://www.canva.com.
How to move graphics from Canva.com to Pinterest
I soon discovered that I didn’t know how to move the graphics I created on Canva.com and saved to my hard drive. A search on Google quickly brought up the instructions. You simply go to the Pinterest toolbar, click on the red “+” sign, and then click on “Upload an image.” (This just might be the first time I’ve been able to give any technology advice to anyone!)
Want to see what I’ve done on Pinterest?
Please go to my Pinterest page (https://www.pinterest.com/janet5049) and look at the graphics I created this past week for the following boards: The Spanish Coin – My Novel in Progress; Blue Ridge Mountains; Great Smoky Mountains; Books & Authors; and Rocky River Presbyterian Church.
Here’s a graphic I created about my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, for my Great Smoky Mountains board on Pinterest:
There are lots of things to keep in mind when making a graphic for social media. Looking at the one shown above, I realize using a color background would have made it more eye-catchy, although I think it shows up better on Pinterest than on my blog.
Also, at the bottom of the graphic, I should have included my blog’s URL, my website’s URL, and my handle on Twitter. I have edited it in light of that, in case I decide to reuse it at a later date.
My social media plan for Pinterest
Mondays: Pin link to my weekly blog post to Janet’s Writing Blog board (set up to post automatically by WordPress.com) and a colonial history factoid or A Spanish Coin teaser to The Spanish Coin – My Novel in Progress;
Tuesdays: Pin a factoid from my vintage postcard book to my Great Smoky Mountains;
Wednesdays: Pin a Rocky River Presbyterian Church history factoid from one of my church history booklets to my Rocky River Presbyterian Church;
Thursdays: Pin a factoid from my vintage postcard book to my Blue Ridge Mountains;
Fridays: Pin a Rocky River Presbyterian Church women’s history factoid to my Rocky River Presbyterian Church & Cabarrus-Mecklenburg boards; OR Pin a Rocky River Presbyterian Church history factoid to my Rocky River Presbyterian Church & Cabarrus-Mecklenburg boards with a link to the church’s website where a copy of Dr. Thomas Hugh Spence, Jr.’s book, The Presbyterian Congregation on Rocky River, can be ordered.
Saturdays: Create factoids/infographics for the following week(s).
This is a grand plan for someone with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so I know I will not accomplish this every week. I fell short last week even though I was enthusiastic about starting this new plan. I might miss some weeks altogether. The schedule gives me something to aim for, though.
80/20 Rule of Social Media Marketing
I have read in various sources that 80% of your posts on social media should inform, educate, or entertain and only 20% should promote your business. That rule prompted me to strive to shine a light on a book about the history of Presbyterian Women at Rocky River Presbyterian Church or Dr. Spence’s church history book on Pinterest on Fridays.
I wrote neither of the books, and the proceeds from their sales benefit the ongoing work of the Presbyterian Women at Rocky River and the church’s cemetery fund. (The church dates back to 1751 and has several very old cemeteries that have to be maintained.)
My social media plan for Pinterest looks a little out of whack in light of the 80/20 Rule; however, I hope all the pins I create will fall into the “inform, educate, or entertain” categories.
Since my last blog post
In addition to learning how to create my own Pinterest pins and pinning my creations last week, I have continued to work on the rewrite of my historical novel, The Spanish Coin.
Until my next blog
I hope you have a good book to read.
If you’re an avid reader who has never considered the possibilities of using Pinterest, you might want to check it out. You just might find that your favorite authors have pages there and boards about their books. After looking for your favorite authors on Pinterest, please let me know if this was an enjoyable experience for you and specifically what you liked about it.
If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time. Please let me know what your experience has been on Pinterest. If you haven’t thought about using it as part of your writer’s platform, perhaps you’ll consider it after reading this blog post.
Don’t be shy about spreading the word about my blog. Feel free to use the buttons below to put today’s post on Facebook, Tweet about it, reblog it on your blog, or Pin it on Pinterest. Thank you!
Today’s blog post is an edited local history newspaper column I wrote for the August 23, 2006 edition of Harrisburg Horizons newspaper, Harrisburg, North Carolina. Appearing in the newspaper as “Pioneer Mills: No Place for a Preacher’s Son,” it paints a picture of the Rocky River and Pioneer Mills communities in Cabarrus County in the 1870s.
Manse wasn’t ready!
The Rev. Joseph B. Mack came from Charleston, South Carolina in 1871 to be the pastor of Rocky River Presbyterian Church. When he and his family arrived, the manse the congregation was building for his family to live in was not completed.
Church members Robert Harvey Morrison and his wife, the former Mary Ann Stuart, moved their family into a tenant house and gave the new minister’s family their home in the Pioneer Mills community. This was no small sacrifice because the manse was not completed until 1873! The Morrisons’s two youngest children, an 18-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son were still in the household, and Mr. and Mrs. Morrison were in their 50s.
The Robert Harvey Morrison home was built as early as 1846 when he inherited the land from his father. The house and its numerous out-buildings have been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1990.
In case you’re wondering
Robert Harvey Morrison was a relative of mine but not a direct ancestor. In the 1800s my part of the family didn’t live in grand houses like the one pictured. Gold was never found on the property my part of the family owned. There was a gold mine on the land that Robert Harvey Morrison inherited from his father.
Pioneer Mills was a gold-mining boom town in the early- to mid-19th century. It was apparently still a rip-roarin’ place in 1871.
Dr. William Mack’s memories in 1912
A special homecoming was held at the church on August 12, 1912. Rev. Mack’s son, Dr. William Mack, was unable to attend. He sent his regrets from New York and put some of his childhood memories on paper. Fortunately for us, his letter to homecoming master of ceremonies Mr. Morrison Caldwell was printed in the Concord newspapers the following week.
Dr. Mack wrote, “My first Rocky River recollection is of getting off the train at Harris Depot [now, Harrisburg, NC] and going in the dark to the home of Uncle Solomon Harris.” I don’t believe Dr. Mack was related to Mr. Harris. This was probably a term of endearment and respect.
He continued, “There we met Ed and ‘Little Jim’ (to distinguish him from ‘Big Jim,’ the son of Mr. McKamie Harris.) Uncle Solomon had the biggest fire-place I ever saw; it seemed as big as a barn door.
“Shortly afterwards we went to Pioneer Mills…. There… was the old Gold mine, Barnhardt’s store and McAnulty’s shoemaker shop…. While there I decided to become either a merchant or shoemaker, for Barnhardt’s store and McAnulty’s shop kindled young ambitions; better to ‘keep store’ or ‘mend shoes,’ than as a preacher’s son to be moving around from place to place.
“But Pioneer Mills was ‘no place for a preacher’s son.’ Soon we moved again; this time to the brand new brick parsonage, close by the church. We used to go to church in a big closed carriage drawn by two mules; now, every Sunday, we walked to church, going down a steep hill, across a branch, and through the grove to the famous old house of worship.”
Dr. Mack’s letter also read, “Those were happy years; happy in springtime with its apple blossoms, song birds, morning-glories and Tish McKinley’s Sassafras tea; happy in the summertime, with its blackberries and plums, its bob-whites in the wheat fields, its lightning and thunder storms, its bare-footed boys and girls, and its bitter quinine to keep off third-day chills; happy in the autumn time, with its white fields of unpicked cotton and its beautiful trees with leaves of myriad hues; and happy in the wintertime, with its snows, its big hickory back-logs, its boys in boots red-topped and toes brass-tipped, its red-cheeked girls in wraps and ‘choke rags,’ and its Christmas Holidays and turkeys.”
Dr. Mack’s colorful memories paint an idyllic picture of life in Township One in Cabarrus County in the early 1870s. I hope the children growing up here in the 21st century will have equally-as-fond memories of this place.
My sources for this blog post were the following: The Presbyterian Congregation on Rocky River, by Thomas Hugh Spence, Jr, 1954; The Concord Daily Tribune, August 16, 1912; The Concord Times, August 19, 1912; http://www.hpo.ncdcr.gov/nr/CA0498.pdf (photocopy of the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for Robert Harvey Morrison Farm and Pioneer Mills Gold Mine); and Descendants of James & Jennet Morrison of Rocky River, by Alice Marie Morrison and Janet Sue Morrison.
Until my next blog post
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I hope you have a good book to read. If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.