Some Early Wagon Roads of

Northwestern Forsyth County

Written by Judy Stanley Cardwell

Published in The Forsyth County Genealogical Society Journal, Summer 2007, Volume 25, No. 4

 

This article will discuss three early roads in Forsyth County. Settlers built roads to get to court, to trade with other peoples, visit mills or taverns, to go to church, and to visit the Moravian villages in the Wachovia Tract.[i] 

 

These three roads discussed in this article are the Hollows Rd., the Townfork-Richmond Rd, and the Moravian Rd. Below is the documentation that I have found on these roads:

 

Hollows Rd. :( see Figure 1)

20 Feb 1762 – Rowan Co., NC - Diary of Bethabara and Bethania, 1762:

This week a wagon road has been opened from the Hollow to Bethania.[1]

 

Surry County, NC was formed in 1770 from Rowan County, NC. The act became effective April 1, 1771.[2] The Moravians wanted the courthouse built in Salem, NC. This did not work out for the Moravians, but they did petition the court:

 

16 Apr 1770-Rowan Co., NC – Wachovia Diary:

4) They think that at or near the Place where the Road coming from Virginia thro’ the Townfork Settlement and the new Town of Salem to the Shallowford of Atkin [Yadkin] intersects an other much frequented Road coming from the Hollow and the Towns of Bethany [Bethania] and Bethabara to Widow Simmons & the New Garden as well as other Settlements would be a convenient Situation for a Courthouse, it being about 40 miles North of Salisbury & in the center of some of the greatest Settlements in these Parts.[3]

 

On September 20, 1779, Joseph Harrison received a NC State Land Grant for 640 acres on both sides of the south fork of Parker’s Creek:

Beginning at Lashes corner Scrub oak running thence south 20Chains to a red oak then West 95 chains crossing the creek and the Hollow Road to a Spanish Oak and Chestnut. . .  . (see Figure 1)[4]

 

On November 11, 1784, Joseph Harrison sold this tract of land, 640 acres, to Thomas Briggs for 200 pounds. Again the deed states that the west line is 95 chains crossing the creek and the Hollow Rd. [5]

 

The first road of record in this region was called "The Hollow Wagon Road", its route linking the Moravian settlement of Bethania and "the Hollows." The road opened in 1762 and was thought to have been an old Indian trail. Sections of this old roadbed can still be seen here and there. In fact, a portion of the original road bearing the name of "the Hollows Road”, can be traveled, northwest of the town of Pilot Mountain.

In the southern part of the town of Mount Airy, the Hollows Road went over the hill which flanks present day Massey Road, down through the meadow, over Seed Cane Creek, across the Westfield Road, down the hill through Lover's Lane and by the Old Forkner Cemetery. The road's depression can still be seen near the Ararat River.

The road eventually extended across the mountain by way of the Elk Spur Road, which roughly parallels present day Fancy Gap on the east. This is the road Patriot James Boyd traveled to Bethania seeking to scout out the plans of Cornwallis' Army. It is also, no doubt, the road leading to the lead mines in Virginia. According to the Moravian Records, Colonel Chiswell built a fort there in 1760, to protect the mines - thus the name Fort Chiswell.7

 

 

 

 

Figure 1 – Map of the Hollows Road from Bethania

to the Hollows, now Mt. Airy, NC.

 

Townfork-Richmond Rd.:(see Figure 9)

The first place that I read about the Townfork-Richmond Rd. is in the following road orders:

 

Surry County P’s and Q’s:

14 May 1779 – Ordered Robert Walker, Joseph Harrison, Phillip Shouse, John Binkley, Thomas Briggs, Gray Bynum, Alexander Moore, James Freeman, James Ross, William Campbell, Arthur Denton, Frederick Helsibeck, John Snead, Andrew Fisler, Abraham Martin, Thomas Evans, Michael Fry, Joseph Winston, Edward Evans, James Charles, Valentine Fry, Henry Fry;  jury to view road from Major [Joseph] Winstons to Courthouse[Richmond]. 8

 

12 Aug 1779 – Jury appointed view road from Major [Joseph]  Winstons to Court House[Richmond] make report: turn out the old road just above [Gray] Bynums; Between Michael and Henry Frys into old road below Abraham Martin; thence along old road to Henry Hendricks;  thence turn off and run near Leonard Mousers[Moser]; thence to Richmond the following overseers keep same in repair: Thomas Briggs from Richmond to Leonard Mouser[Moser]; Henry Fry from Mousers[Moser] to Neatman Creek; John Blackburn from Neatman to Moser Martins.9

 

The last road order shows the road going beyond Joseph Winston’s home to Moses Martin who lived in the area where Walnut Cove, NC is today. It is likely that the road went as far as the Dan River.

 

The importance of a road that went from Moses Martin to Richmond was that Richmond was the county seat of Surry County from 1774-1789.  In those years Surry County was all of what are now Surry County, Yadkin County, Stokes County and Forsyth County.

 

There were many reasons in the 1700’s why a person had to go to court:  prove a deed, jury duty, road orders, probate wills, petition to build a public mill, license to have a tavern, stock marks and brands, estate matters, Bastardy cases among many other things. Court met every 3 months or 4 times a year.10

 

The most convincing evidence of the Richmond Road is in a NC State Land Grant to Leonard Moser for 640 acres on the Grassy Fork Creek [also called Grassy Creek].  Leonard Moser’s land is where Rural Hall, NC, is located today.

 

Figure 2 - 20 Sept 1779 – Surry Co., NC Land Grant of Leonard Moser’s 640 acres plot of land in what is today, Rural Hall, NC. Labels were added by the author of this article.11

 

Transcription of the description of the land grant:

State of North Carolina, Surry County – This plan represents a tract of Land surveyd.  for Leonard Mosey [Moser] lying on the Grassey Fork of Muddy Creek Beginning at a white oak near Richman [Richmond] Road running south crossing the moravin road ninty two Chains to a black oak in the Moravin waccovia line thence East along line crossing said fork sixty nine a half chains To a post oak thence north ninty two crossing Richman [Richmond] road to a white oak thence west sixty nine and a half chains to the first station containing six hundred and forty acres Surveyd Octo. 21st 1778.

                                                                       Henry Speer

Peter Mosey[Moser]}  Ch. Cas.

Andrew fisler    }12

 

Figure 3 - Drawing of the Town of Richmond showing

the Townfork Rd. coming into Richmond at the

Courthouse.13

 

It is very unusual for a surveyor to show the roads on a survey of a land grant, so in the case of Leonard Moser, it certainly helps to show that the Townfork-Richmond Rd. was across his property in what is now the town of Rural Hall, NC.

 

Figure 4 - Author's map of Leonard Moser's NC Land

Grant, plus two NC Land Grants for Anthony Bitting Sr.

 

On 13 Dec 1798 in Stokes Co., NC, Anthony Bitting [Sr.] received two NC State Land Grants:  one for 80 acres on the waters of Buffalo Creek and one for 100 acres on the Rocky Creek.  The NC Land Grant for 80 acres on waters of Buffalo Creek begins at pine on the north side of an old road that leads from Germanton to Bittings. . .14His 100 acre NC Land Grant on Rocky Creek has a corner that is a pile of rocks by a wagon road. . .15

 

On July 17, 178216,Leonard Moser died in Surry County, NC.  In his will dated,16 July 178217,Leonard Moser stated how he wanted his land divided:

 

to my beloved wife, Sara, . . . two hundred acres of Land Lying on Wachovia line in the southwest corner of my tract. . . to my son John Moser at the decease of my wife Sarah, the above mention two hundred acres of Land in the southwest corner of my tract of land. . . 18

 

to my son Peter Moser two hundred and forty acres of Land joining the said Wachovia line in the southeast corner of my tract. . . 19

     

I order the remainder two hundred acres of land in the north end of my tract . . . be sold at publick sale. . . .20

 

On November 9, 1786, Peter Moser sold his 240 tract of land to Anthony Bitting [Sr.]for 80 pounds.21 On November 16, 1786, Adam Binkley and Adam Wolff executors of the estate of Leonard Moser, deceased, sold 200 acres of land to Anthony Bitting [Sr.]which includes plantation therein for 120 pounds.22

 

Figure 5 - This map by the author shows the land that

Anthony Bitting [Sr.] purchased from the

estate of Leonard Moser and from

Leonard Moser’s son, Peter Moser.

 

 

Anthony Bitting Sr. lived on this property until his death on 27 June 180423 in Stokes Co., NC.  Anthony had a Tavern at his home on this property until March 6, 1792, when he opened a Tavern in Germanton, NC.24

 

Surry County P’s and Q’s:

13 Feb 1786 – Surry Co., NC – Anthony Bitting [Sr.] has leave to keep Tavern at his house; John Addams and John Adam Woolf, securities.25

 

Surry County P’s and Q’s:

17 Nov 1786 – Surry Co., NC -Ordered Henry Fry overseer road from Townfork to Anthony Bittings [Sr.]clear path that now made use of by Travellers.26

 

On September 6, 1796 in Stokes Co., NC – John and Elizabeth Briggs administrators of the estate of Thomas Briggs, deceased, sold 189 acres of Thomas Brigg’s 640 acre tract to his son Jesse Briggs for 80 pounds.  This deed states:  forked black oak by the old road called Richmond Rd. These 189 acres of land includes the house that Jesse Briggs now lives in.27 (See Figure 8)

 

 

On June 25, 1804, Anthony Bitting [Sr.] gave Deeds of Gift for good will and affection to his children which is all his land in Figure 6 located in what is today Rural Hall, NC.

 

To my son Anthony Bitting Jr. for good will and affection, 198 acres on waters of Buffalo and Grassy Creek adjacent Mary Bitting and Joshua Banner and his wife Martha Bitting Banner including the house where Anthony Bitting Sr. now lives. . . Witnesses:  Charles Banner and Elizabeth Bitting. Deed proved in Dec. 1807 by Charles Banner.28

 

To my daughter Martha Bitting Banner and her husband Joshua Banner for good will and affection 111 acres on waters of Buffalo Creek...south thirty four degrees west running a wagon road [Moravian Rd.] thirty four and a half chains. . . Witnesses:  Elizabeth Bitting and Charles Banner. Deed proved in Dec. 1807 by Charles Banner.29

 

To my daughter Mary Bitting for good will and affection, 102 acres of land on waters of Buffalo Creek and Grassy Creek adjacent Anthony Bitting Jr. Witnesses:  Charles Banner and Elizabeth Bitting.  Deed proved in Dec. 1807 by Charles Banner.30

 

To my son John Bitting for good will and affection, 112 acres of land on Rough Fork Creek. Witnesses: Charles Banner and Elizabeth Bitting. Proved in Dec. 1807 by Charles Banner.31

 

To my daughter Elizabeth Bitting for good will and affection, 121 acres on Buffalo Creek and head waters of Rocky Creek...south thirty four degrees west running a wagon road [Moravian Rd.] thirty four and a half chains...  Witnesses: Charles Banner and Mary Bitting. Proved in Dec 1807 by Charles Banner.32

 

Anthony Bitting Sr.’s will is dated 26 June 180433in Stokes County, NC. In his will he states:

 

I give & bequeath unto my youngest son Anthony [Jr.]

. . . also one hundred & ninety eight acres of land including my mansion house in which I now live agreeable to a Deed of gift dated the 25th instant at the same time I conveyed a Tract of land to each of my above mentioned children as part of their Legacys.34

 

Figure 6 - This map, by the author, shows Anthony Bitting’s Land that he gave by Deed of Gift to each of his surviving children in 1804.

 

Moravian Road: (See Figure 9)

The Moravian Road began at Leonard Moser’s 640 acre NC Land Grant and went to Bethania in the Wachovia Tract. The earliest map of this road is on Gottlieb Reuter’s 1771 map of the Wachovia Tract.

 

Figure 7 - 1771 Wachovia Map by Gottlieb Reuter of Eastern Surry County, NC. Labels added by the author of this article.35

 

One entry from the Moravian Diaries state:

1777 Feb 15 – Surry Co., NC - Bethania Diary:

We went to visit John Pinkely[Binkley]36 but did not find him at home as he had gone to help his brother Adam37lay up a house.  Then we went to Herman[Harmon] Muller's[Miller]38 finding his wife39quite ill;  her brother-in-law, Geiger[Kiger]40 came to bleed her, and we returned with him to his plantation.  From there we went to [Andrew] Fessler's41and returned home by way of [Leonard] Moser’s42 43

 

25 Jun 1804 – Stokes Co., NC:

From Anthony Bitting Sr. to my daughter Martha Bitting Banner and her husband Joshua Banner for good will and affection 111 acres on waters of Buffalo Creek...south thirty four degrees west running a wagon road [Moravian Rd.] thirty four and a half chains. . .

Witnesses:  Elizabeth Bitting and Charles Banner. Deed proved in Dec. 1807 by Charles Banner.44

 

25 Jun 1804 – Stokes Co., NC:

From Anthony Bitting Sr. to my daughter Elizabeth Bitting for good will and affection, 121 acres on Buffalo Creek and head waters of Rocky Creek...south thirty four degrees west running a wagon road [Moravian Rd.] thirty four and a half chains...  Witnesses: Charles Banner and Mary Bitting. Proved in Dec 1807 by Charles Banner.45

 

 


Figure 8 – A map, by the author, showing the line between Elizabeth Bitting and Joshua Banner, south 34 degrees west running a wagon road [Moravian Rd.] 34 ½ chains, follows the Moravian Rd.

Some Laws of North Carolina  for road orders in the 1700s:
All male tithables, that is, all male slaves of twelve years and over, and all other males of sixteen years and over, were required to labor on the highways. Twice a year, April and September, the overseers could summon persons for road service, and those who failed to appear when summoned were subject to a fine of five shillings for every day's neglect, but this amount was so little and so difficult to collect that the statute was ineffective. Disabled persons were excused from road service by the precinct[Civil] courts, and a member of the Council or Assembly, a justice of any court, a coroner, a constable or a minister of the Church of England might be excused by sending three persons to take his place. 46

Beginning in 1868, the county commissioners were largely responsible for roads.  Legislation in 1915, 1921, and 1931 transferred the roads to the state highway commission. 47

Conclusions:
The above documentation shows that the three roads, Hollows Rd., Townfork-Richmond Rd, and the Moravian Rd. existed in the 1700s.  All the documentation and evidence prove that two of these roads, the Townfork-Richmond Rd. and the Moravian Rd., both go through Rural Hall, NC.

 

 

 

Figure 9 – A map showing the Townfork Richmond Rd., the Hollows Rd., the Moravian Rd. and the Great Wagon Rd.

 

 



[1][1] Adelaide L. Fries, M. A., Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, published in 1928 by State Department of Archives and History, Raleigh, NC, Volume I, page 243.

[2]  David Leroy Corbitt, The Formation of the North Carolina Counties 1663-1943, published by Division of Archives and History, NC Department of  Cultural Resources, 1987, page 199.

[3] Adelaide L. Fries, M. A., Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, published in 1928 by State Department of Archives and History, Raleigh, NC, Volume I,        page 425.

[4]  Surry County Register of Deeds, Dobson, NC, Surry County Deed Book A, pages 317-318.

[5]  Ibid, Surry County Deed Book C, pages 101-102.

7  Barbara Case Summerlin, The Hollows, published in 2004 by Hickory Hill Publishing, Mt. Airy, NC, page 43.

8 Mrs. W. O. Absher, Surry County, North Carolina Court Minutes Volume I and II 1768-1789, published in 1985 by Southern Historical Press, Easley, S. C., page 14.

9 Mrs. W. O. Absher, Surry County, North Carolina Court Minutes Volume I and II 1768-1789, published in 1985 by Southern Historical Press, Easley, S. C., page 17.

10 Helen F. M. Leary, C.G., F.A.S.G., North Carolina Research Genealogy and Local History, Second Edition, published in 1996 by the North Carolina Genealogical Society, Raleigh, NC, pages 52-53.

 

11 The N. C. State Land Grant for Leonard Moser dated 20 September 1779 was found at the Division of Archives and History in Raleigh, NC.

 

12 The N. C. State Land Grant for Leonard Moser dated 20 September 1779 was found at the Division of Archives and History in Raleigh, NC.

13 Adelaide L. Fries, M.A., Record of the Moravians in North Carolina, Volume II, published in 1925 by State Department of Archives and History, Raleigh, NC, page 634.

 

 

 

 

 

14 Stokes County Register of Deeds, Danbury, NC, Stokes Deed Book, Stokes Deed Book 3, page 248.

15 Ibid.

16 Adelaide L. Fries, M.A., Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, Volume IV, published in 1930 by the NC Department of Archives and History, page 1824. 1782 Jul 18 - Surry Co., NC - Bethania Diary: With the Brn. Volck and Fischer I rode to Moser's, where, at the request of his wife and children, I held the funeral of the older Moser. Although a large number had gathered, partly English partly German, all was quiet  and orderly.

17 The will of Leonard Moser was found at the NC State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

18 Ibid.

19 The will of Leonard Moser was found at the NC State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

20 Ibid.

21 Surry County Register of Deeds, Dobson, NC, Surry Deed Book D, page 103.

22 Ibid, Surry Deed Book D, page 102.

 

                 

 

 

 

 

23 Anthony Bitting is buried at Nazareth Lutheran Church in Rural Hall, NC. According to his tombstone, Anthony was born on 13 October 1738 and died 27 June 1804.

24 Carol Leonard Snow, Stokes County, North Carolina County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions Volume I 1790-1793, self published in 1999, page 64.

25 Mrs. W. O. Absher, Surry County, North Carolina Court Minutes Volume I and II 1768-1789, published in 1985 by Southern Historical Press, Easley, S. C., page 84.

26 Ibid., page 102.

27 Stokes County Register of Deeds, Danbury, NC, Stokes Deed Book 2, page 332.

28 Ibid., Deed Book 5, page 179.

29 Ibid.

30 Stokes County Register of Deeds, Danbury, NC, Deed Book 5, page 180.

31 Ibid.

32 Ibid. Stokes Deed Book 5, page 179.

33 Anthony Bitting’s will was found at the NC State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

34 Ibid.

35 Adelaide L. Fries, M.A., Record of the Moravians in North Carolina, Volume II, published in 1925 by State Department of Archives and History, Raleigh, NC. Page 433.

36 John Binkley and Adam Binkley are the children of Peter Binkley and Anna Maria Salome Werle Binkley who lived near Bethania.

37 Ibid.

38 Harmon Miller (1740-1818) married Johanna Catherina Fidler, daughter of John Gottfried Fidler and Elizabeth Schauer Fidler. This is a German Lutheran family who helped to organize the Nazareth Lutheran Church in Rural Hall, NC in 1778.

39 Johanna Catherina Fidler is the sister of Mary Margaretha Fidler who married Adam Geiger (1736-1827). This is a German Lutheran family who helped to organize the Nazareth Lutheran Church in Rural Hall in 1778.

40 Adam Geiger (1736-1827) who along with Jacob Petree on 10 Dec 1790 received a NC Land Grant of 102 acres for the Lutheran Society for Nazareth Lutheran Church in Rural Hall. This is a German Lutheran family who helped to organize the Nazareth Lutheran Church in Rural Hall, NC in 1778.

41 Andrew Fesler (ca 1730-1811) married Mary Catherine Jennings. This is a German Lutheran family who helped to organize the Nazareth Lutheran Church in Rural Hall, NC in 1778. This church, in early years, was sometimes called Fesler’s Church.

42 Leonard Moser (ca 1716-1782) married second to Sarah Binkley, also the daughter of Peter Binkley and Anna Maria Salome Binkley. Leonard Moser was also a German Lutheran from Maryland.

43 Adelaide L. Fries, M.A., Record of the Moravians in North Carolina, Volume III, published in 1925 by State Department of Archives and History, Raleigh, NC. Page 1194.

44 Stokes County Register of Deeds, Danbury, NC. Stokes Deed Book 5, page 179.

45 Ibid.

 

 

 

46 The North Carolina Historical Review, Volume III, Numbers 1-4, January-October 1926, Article by F.     W. Clonts, Travel and Transportation in Colonial North Carolina, pages 33-34.

 

47 Helen F. M. Leary, C.G., F.A.S.G., North Carolina Research Genealogy and Local History, Second Edition, published in 1996 by the North Carolina Genealogical Society, Raleigh, NC, page 276.



[i] The North Carolina Historical Review, Volume III, Numbers 1-4, January- October 1926, Article by F. W. Clonts, Travel and Transportation in Colonial North Carolina:  Innumerable short roads connected individual plantations with the main roads. Besides these, there were roads which were cut through the woods to places where the courts customarily sat, to mills and to landings. Orders of the court requesting permission to lay out roads show that these were the greatest factors determining the location of highways other than the main roads. It was essentially to make roads leading to places where the courts sat., Pages 31-32.