American Revolutionary War

Early Pioneers of Western North Carolina

Many families traveled The Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania and settled throughout Virginia. Others migrated further south to the Piedmont area of North Carolina during the mid 18th century. North Carolina was a wild frontier at the time and yet other families traveled west to forbidden lands. These pioneers traveled across the Yadkin River and endured the rough terrain of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This blog will give details of the early settlers in present day Watauga County, NC. Watauga was established in 1849 from several counties, Ashe, Caldwell, Wilkes and Yancey. By the mid 19th century, over 600 families were living in present day Watauga County and held a history for nearly 100 years in this vast mountainous terrain. Various reasons caused these families to settle here, such as the privacy the mountains could provide. Another reason was the words shared by so many of the upcoming war for independence. Taxes, opportunities and freedom for religion and freedom to dream are just a few of the explanations why these early settlers arrived.

A Glimpse Into Watauga County, NC

John Adams was a drummer at the age of 15 during the American Revolutionary War. He was present during the Battle of Yorktown which began October 9, 1781 and ended with Cornwallis surrendering October 18, 1781. Adams was among the French fleet of General the count de Rochambeau. The fleet soon departed for the West Indies still under the pursuit of the British. Young John Adams stayed behind, hiding in a sugar barrel. Once he was sure his ship had sailed, he wandered the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and learned how to become a cabinetmaker. He later sailed on a whaling ship along the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. He departed the ship and traveled to Rowan County where he met and married Esther Hawkins on September 17, 1795. The couple’s first two children were born in Rowan County, Francis and Squire. During the year of 1799, John Adams brought his family to the Cove Creek area of present day Watauga County, then located in Ashe County. He built a log cabin, farmed and became known as a cabinetmaker in the area. John was born circa 1762 and was later known to be living in Sarlat, which is 40 miles from Bordeaux, France. The French fleet to which he was assigned returned to Philadelphia in order to retrieve soldiers who deserted or who were left behind. It is at this time that John embarked on the whaling vessel for North Carolina. This very same reason could have been the result of John Adams settling in Watauga County and the remote area of Cove Creek. The couple had ten known children. John died at 1:00pm, Thursday, July 24, 1823 and was buried the next day. Esther Adams was born in 1774 in Orange County, NC. She was a charter member of the Cove Creek Baptist Church which was organized in 1799. Esther continued to live in the log home after John’s death until 1859, the time of her death. Children of this union are 1-Francis(1797-1846), Squire(1799-1877), Rachel(1800-1834), Sarah(1802-1823), Tarleton(1805-1877), Allen(1807-1893), Martha(1808-?), George(1809-1827), Alfred(1811-1870) and Elizabeth(1813-?).

Dr. Ezekiel Baird was born in Monmouth, New Jersey to Andrew and Sarah Baird. His mother, Sarah died in New Jersey and left her son twenty shillings in her will. Soon after her death, Ezekiel Baird traveled the Great Wagon Road with his wife Susanna Blodgett Baird to North Carolina. They traveled with a small party to the Watauga County area known today as Valle Crucis along Baird’s creek. The couple built a home and had three sons, Bedent(1770-1862), Blodgett and William. During 1795, Ezekiel and his son, Blodgett left the area to travel west. The family may have contemplated the idea of moving further west as many families during this time were doing. But, Ezekiel and his son never returned to Watauga County. Susannah continued to live in the home and was the first person to be buried in the Baird Cemetery located in Valle Crucis.

Watauga River

Thomas Bingham was born in Norwich, Conn. to his parents, namely Thomas Bingham and Mary Rudd. Thomas traveled the Great Wagon Road to Virginia where he met and married Hannah Backus. This family continued to live in Virginia until William, grandson of Thomas II moved to Reddy’s River, Wilkes County and married Mary Elizabeth McNeil. William’s son, George moved to Watauga County and married Mary Ann Davis in 1833.

William Coffey was born November 29, 1782 in present day Wilkes County, NC. He lived with his parents, Thomas and Sarah Fields along the upper Yadkin River. William married Anna Boone on October 18, 1804 in a small log home near present day Boone, Watauga County. They lived at the forks of Mulberry Creek and had the following children. Daniel(1805), Welborn(1807-1897), Gilliam(1810). Celia(1813-1899) and Calvin(1819) William Coffey died in 1839 and Anna remained a widow up to her death which occurred in 1876.

Michael Cook was born July 23, 1773, son of Adam Cook. He married Ann Elizabeth Arney. The couple moved to present day Watauga County and entered 600 acres by paying 5 cents an acre. The couple had at least 11 known children: Catherine(1798-1840), John(1800), Adam(1802-1865), Henry(1804), Mary(1806), Jacob(1808-1873), Michael Jr(1810), David(1814-1850), William(1815-1876), Elizabeth(1818-1846) and Robert(1820). Michael operated one of the first grist mills in the area and was located along the banks of Goshen Creek. Michael Cook died during the spring of 1844 according to will documents.

Benjamin Dugger was living in present day Watauga County during the year of 1787. He purchased land in the Brushy Forks area and was the father of at least 3 children. Several of Benjamin’s family members followed him to the area between the years of 1795 and 1805. John Dugger, born 1780 in Wilkes County, moved to the Watauga County area and settled near his relative, Uncle Benjamin.

Landrine Eggers is the son of George and Arie Beard Eggers. Landrine was born in 1757 and lived in Freehold, New Jersey until the family moved to Goshen, New York. Landrine and brother, Daniel Eggers both settled in the Jersey Settlement of Rowan County, NC. Both of these men served during the American Revolutionary War. Landrine married Joanna Silvers on April 16, 1779 and traveled to Watauga County later that same year along with his brother, Daniel and his family. They settled near Three Forks Baptist Church where they all were active members.

Conrad Elrod settled in present day Blowing Rock, Watauga County before 1800. His friends referred to him as “Coonrod”. He was born in 1749 to Wilheim and Anna Boschel Elrod. He was baptized in 1750 at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Frederick, Maryland. Conrad had at least 5 children: Adam(1787-1875), Mary, Peter, William(1795-1867) and Alexander(1802-1894).

Ebenezer Fairchild was born in 1730 and lived with his parents, Caleb and Anne Fairchild in Stratford, Conn. Ebenezer married Salome Goble in August of 1750 at the First Presbyterian Church in Morristown, New Jersey. Salome died during childbirth and Ebenezer married Mary in 1755. Ebenezer’s children are Sarah(1751) Salome(1753), Abigail, Ann and Cyrus(1767-1853). Ebenezer was a charter member and elder of Dutchman’s Creek, now known as Eaton’s Baptist Church. Ebenezer was a known minister of Three Fork’s Baptist Church.

This marks the end of segment 1 in this series. Please be sure to visit our site for weekly updates and upcoming segments on this series and others, such as Stokes County, NC Early Settlers, Rockingham County, NC Early Settlers, Surry County, NC Early Settlers, Ashe County, NC Early Settlers and Early Migration Trails. Thank You All So Much for your support, Piedmont Trails greatly appreciates each of you. Stay the course and Enjoy Your Journey to the Past !!

4 replies »

  1. Wonderful research, wonderful narrative, beautiful photography. My first cousin lived in Valle Crucis until she passed three years ago. I visited her many times there. Such an idyllic place. I look forward to becoming familiar with your blog, and with your archives. It’s so refreshing to find you, and we have much in common. Vann Helms

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your blog! So helpful. Little bits of info I glean from your articles could help me with a breakthrough! I do not live in the area but have ancestors I’m researching that lived in Cove Creek from @ 1790-1830’s. Any useful resources you can share? I’m hoping to research the churches records you mentioned in this article for helpful info.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Andrea,
      Thank You so much for your kind words about the blog. You requested materials of research pertaining to church records in the Cove Creek area of Watauga County, NC. Cove Creek Baptist Church was organized during the year of 1799 and was the second church in the area. The previous year, The Three Forks Church requested to be dismissed from the Yadkin Association and a new Mountain Association was formed in 1798. You can find microfilm records of Cove Creek Baptist Church at the ZSR Library of Wake Forest University located in Winston-Salem, NC. The Mountain Association separated in 1841 and these churches formed the Three Forks Association which is still active today. Cove Creek has very little written history as well as Meat Camp and Stoney Fork areas. Where as, Boone, Valle Crucis and Blowing Rock has huge amounts of written documentation. Check also the local records by means of Watauga County Historical Society. I wish you great success on your research and let me know if Piedmont Trails can help you in any way. Enjoy Your Journey !!

      Liked by 1 person

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