Isaac Jones homestead (1837-1851) Calloway County, KY

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hunting Creek, Surry County, NC (1801-1827).....Part 1

North Little Hunting Creek, Yadkin County, NC
(Surry County before 1850)

On October 10, 1801, Isaac Jones makes his earliest known land purchase in Surry County, North Carolina; purchasing 142 acres "on the waters of Hunting Creek" from Noel Waddle for the price of 70 pounds. The land lay to the south of a man named Benjamin Johnson, which most likely places it in the vicinity of today's Buck Shoals. The deed was witnessed by James Whitlock and John Brown. This James Whitlock was the son of the James Whitlock mentioned earlier in Rowan County, and the father of Bowen Whitlock who married Isaac's daughter Alvina. John Brown had relocated to the area from southern Rowan County in 1780, coming from a family of influential early German settlers in that area. There's no reason to believe that he and Isaac had any prior connection going back to Rowan County, and most likely was only acting as a witness to the deed because he had also bought land nearby from Noel Waddle a year earlier. The Jones and Brown family would ultimately form a strong connection eventually leading to the marriage of two of John Brown's daughters to Isaac's sons Thomas and Burrel. James Whitlock on the other hand, Isaac most certainly knew prior to relocating to Surry County. James was also a Methodist and nephew to Hardy Jones, who as mentioned earlier, was a wealthy Methodist planter who helped found the Cokesbury School in Rowan County. He too had begun buying land in the Hunting Creek area beginning in 1800. If there is a family connection between Hardy and Isaac Jones, it is most likely way way back. I've often wondered though if Isaac's eventual grandson-in-laws, John and Nathaniel P. Jones, were actually nephews of Hardy Jones. It's probably also important to note that Hardy's daughter Nancy had married Daniel Hunt, the younger brother of Isaac's Cedar Creek neighbor Andrew Hunt.

Isaac's reasons for relocating to the Hunting Creek area of Surry County are most likely part affordable land had become available for sale and part connection to the Methodist Church. This part of the county had long been a popular place to settle for Methodists. The famous Methodist bishop Francis Asbury even makes mention of it in his journal in 1794 as he was making his historic ride through the southeastern United States. In his journal the bishop writes, "Wednesday 2. Came to E.'s meeting-house, near Hunting Creek, in Surry County: here I met with some old disciples from Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia, who have known me these twenty-two years."
The "E's meeting-house" he refers to is most likely Ellsbury Meeting House, currently known as Asbury Methodist Church located very close to Isaac's initial land purchase on Hunting Creek.

Now possibly at age 32, it may be that Isaac had just found the opportunity to really advance himself and begin to make his mark. Isaac had done pretty well for himself with the purchase and sale of his earlier Cedar Creek property in Rowan County. Having purchased his 100 acres on Cedar Creek for the sum of 20 pounds in 1798, and then having sold it three years later for the price of  $150, Isaac managed to walk away with a fairly decent profit. Using what is thought to be a pretty accurate conversion estimate for the time; that one pound equalled 20 shillings, and one shilling equalled twelve and a half cents, it appears Isaac profited $100 off this transaction and that would've been a fair amount of money for the time.  This scenario is actually indicative of one of the few ways people had during this period in history to attempt to make a name for themselves and climb the social chain. Land was the basis for everything during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and if you had the means, land speculation was the way to go. This was a widely popular activity at the time and worked extremely well for those with an adventurous spirit or those who were well-connected. Unless you were rich, the most common way to go about it was for someone to buy a cheap large undeveloped piece of land and work towards clearing it to make it suitable for farming, then sell it at a profit to the first new settler to the area to come along. Based on the sheer volume of land deeds involving Isaac Jones, he was pretty adept at this.

The huge difference in cost between an undeveloped piece of land and one that had been "improved" is clearly illustrated in Isaac's second land purchase in Surry County on December 12, 1804. Once again the land is located "on the waters of Hunting Creek" and bordering Benjamin Johnson, as well as, a man listed only as "Jeffries". This would prove to be William Jeffrey Sr., the father of John and William Jeffrey who married Isaac's daughters Jane and Lydia. This new parcel of land is being purchased from a man named Samuel Hicks, and whereas before Isaac had been able to purchase 142 acres for 70 pounds, this time around it is a mere 42 acres for 33 pounds! This large difference in price would be the sort of thing that would indicate these 42 acres most likely had a home and the necessary amenities for the time located on it. It is on this piece of land that I think Isaac actually lived during his years in Surry County.

This notion is further supported by the Surry County Court Minutes which state that on August 15, 1805 it was "ordered by the court that the following persons towit, Isaac Jones, William Jeffrey, Richard Musik, John Catstevens, Isaac Minish, William Osborn, William Nixon, Ambrose Chappel Esq., Benjamin Johnson, Jesse Brewer, Jesse Sisk, Joshua Hicks, Nathan Pearson, and Joseph Sparks or any twelve of them be appointed a jury to view and mark out a road from the old iron work road at William Nixons to the Wilks road at William Nixons to the Wilks road at the flat rock and make report thereof to next court." As mentioned in an earlier post, selection for this sort of thing would indicate you lived or owned land along the proposed route. Based on early maps of the area, the "old iron work road" ran from an important iron ore mine in present day Jonesville and basically followed the same route as today's Highway 21 down through Hamptonville. The "Wilks road" that is mentioned ran the same course as today's Highway 421 with the "flat rock" being a reference to the Flat Rock Branch of Hunting Creek. This would essentially place Isaac's homestead somewhere right along or north of the section of Highway 421 between Brooks Crossroads and Swan Creek Road to the west.

The location of Isaac's homestead can be narrowed down even further based on another Surry County court record dated August 13, 1806. On this particular day, the court minutes indicate that it was "Ordered by the court that James Whitlock be appointed overseer of the road beginning at the pole bridge near Hamptonville to the Wilks line & that the following hands work on the same, towit, Joseph Salmons, Josiah Roughtons negroes, Elisha Roughton, Joel Sparks, Isaac Jones, James Perry, George Messick, John Brown, Richard Messick, Ashley Johnson, Thomas Eliott, Trestraim Cogshall, Joshua Tulbert, Thomas Whitlock, Joseph ___, James Menish, William Menish, Richard Green, James Parks negroes: it is further ordered that the said overseer keep the said road in good order agreeable to law." County tax records as late as 1819 indicate that many of these individuals did in fact own land adjacent to one another and provide an excellent picture of their geographic layout at the time. Even to this day the local names for the county roads attest to where many of these early families lived.

Earlier I had mentioned that Isaac's homestead most likely lay somewhere along the section of Highway 421 between Brooks Crossroads and Swan Creek Road. If you narrow this section down even further and focus on the stretch of it running between Interstate 77 and Swan Creek Road you see Brown Road, Cheek Road, and Sparks Road. John Brown and his extended family lived next to George Messick and you can find the George Messick Cemetery just to the south of the eastern end of Brown Road. County land records indicate that on October 17, 1804, William Jeffrey purchased land from a Benjamin Hicks which lay adjacent to Isaac Jones and Samuel Hicks who were to the north, and adjacent John Brown who was to the west. If you look at the 1818 Surry County Tax List you'll find William Jeffrey is listed as being adjacent James Denny who can be seen listed as adjacent to John Cheek. Isaac Jones is listed as being adjacent Matthew Sparks Sr., his son Joel Sparks, and Atha Elmore who lived along the waters of South Deep Creek. John Cheek had married Atha Elmore's daughter Mary in 1809, and Matthew Sparks Sr.'s son Matthew had married Atha's other daughter Sarah in 1808. The Cheeks were neighbors to Isham Dickerson, whose land Isaac Jones purchased as seen in a deed dated May 27, 1809. The purchase was for 142 acres and bordered "Sparks". This all seems to indicate that the location of Isaac Jones' homestead was north of Highway 421 and west of Interstate 77, lying somewhere between the present day rural communities of Maler and Wagoner.

North Little Hunting Creek area of Yadkin County, NC  

1801 Surry County, NC Deed~Noel Waddle to Isaac Jones

1804 Surry County, NC Deed~Samuel Hicks to Isaac Jones (page 1)

1804 Surry County, NC Deed~Samuel Hicks to Isaac Jones (page 2)

1809 Surry County, NC Deed~Isham Dickerson to Isaac Jones (page 1)

1809 Surry County, NC Deed~Isham Dickerson to Isaac Jones (page 2)

Surry County Court Minutes~August 13, 1805

Surry County Court Minutes~August 13, 1806 (page 1)

Surry County Court Minutes~August 13, 1806 (page 2)

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