Early Settlers Along The Catawba River Segment 2

During my personal research along this historic river, I’ve located 25 additional surnames during the years of 1749-1750. Kawahcatawbas meaning “the people of the river” according to the Siouan language. The history associated with these waters is amazing and filled with many details of our ancestors long ago. Beginning in the Appalachian Mountains, it travels 220 miles down through the foothills and piedmont of North Carolina. It’s waters are captured and controlled before it continues on into South Carolina where it empties into the Wateree River. Welcome to Segment 2 of Early Settlers Along The Catawba River. In this article, I will touch base with the following family names, Killian, Lambert, Sherrill, Whitner(Weidner) and Hammer. I urge you all to research this area and discover the many treasures along the banks of the Catawba River.

McGowan’s Ford (see source notes)

April 13, 1749, Andrew Killin entered 1000 acres of land along the Catawba River and Killin Creek in Anson County, NC. The deed was issued on September 30, 1749. Andrew was born circa 1715 in Pennsylvania and traveled down the Great Wagon Road through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and settled along the banks of the Catawba River. His parents, Andreas and Magdalena raised their children in this area. Eight is these grew to adulthood and flourished along the river. It is believed that Magdalena is buried on the original property of the family. Andreas is buried at St. Paul’s church located in Newton, Catawba County, NC. Andrew and his wife, Maria continued to live along the river until their deaths prior to 1800.

Andrew Lambert received a deed in the amount of 600 acres in what was then known as Anson County along the Catawba River and Clark’s Creek. Beginning at an old Spanish Oak tree, the property was issued on March 31, 1750. Andrew later sold his property to Oliphant and moved to Guilford County with other Quaker members. Oliphant established a mill on the property which served the community several years up to the beginning of the American Revolutionary War.

Abington Sherrill migrated with his family to the area from Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. This family was among the first to arrive, leading a small party and settling near the Catawba River. Abington was issued a deed in the amount of 200 acres on April 4, 1750. The family originally settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania during 1720. William Sherrill, a fur trader and skilled trail blazer, had several children and later migrated to western Maryland during the years following 1730. By the end of the decade, the family had migrated into Virginia and settled in the Shenandoah Valley. The names of the children are William, Adam, Abenton, Ute and Yont. Adam and William are noted as serving in the Virginia militia under Captain Peter Showl in Augusta County. By 1747, the family was moving southward again and settled along the Catawba River. Brothers, William, Adam and Abenton were living among each other all along the river. Sherrill’s Ford is a crossing located on the river and is proclaimed as the original crossing made by Adam Sherrill in 1747.

Sherrill Monument near Sherrill’s Ford crossing along the Catawba River

Newspaper Clipping from January, 1953 about the Sherrill Family

Henry Whitner acquired 1000 acres of land along Catawba River during the year of 1750. He traveled the Great Wagon Road with the first small party which included the Sherrill family members. Henry married Catherine Mull and had at least seven known children, namely Daniel, Henry, Mary, Barbara, Abrahm, Elizabeth and Molly. The tombstone pictured below contains writing from the 18th century German language and reads as follows: Henry Weidner was born in the year of 1717 on the 9th of October Died in the year of 1792 on the 31st of July making all his days here on earth seventy-five years Peace be unto his ashes. Henry is buried at the family cemetery located near Lincolnton.

Henry Whitner 1717-1792

Original Headstone Now Displayed at the Catawba County Museum of History, Newton, NC

Sketched drawing from estate files of Henry Whitner showing property lines and Catawba River

James Hammer was issued a deed on September 29, 1750 in the amount of 300 acres along the Catawba River. According to sources from the Hammer Family Book by Harriette Hammer(1905-1992), many documents reveal the history of this family including oral stories passed down from generation to generation. However, after much research I believe that this family migrated to North Carolina from Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. I have located a James Hammer who upon receipt from his father’s estate, donated land to establish a Friends Meeting House in the area. This occurred during the year of 1716 on lands named Manor of Gilbert from William Penn. This James Hammer had at least four sons, James, John, Adam and Abraham. These sons appear in North Carolina with a small traveling group of other Quakers. Adam and Abraham settled in present day Alamance County area while James and John went further west. John settled in present day Randolph County while James went further west to the Catawba River. John Hammer also acquired 150 acres of land in the year of 1750 near Mountain Creek in present day Randolph County. It appears that majority of James Hammer’s family travels west to Tennessee during the years following the American Revolutionary War.

The Journey Continues Along The Banks of The Catawba River

Piedmont Trails will follow-up with a 3rd segment to this series arriving in February of 2020. The upcoming article will look even further back to Kawahcatawbas, the people of the river and focus on Indian tribes that were living among the early settlers. A small listing of surnames who lived along the river during the years of 1749 and 1750 are: Givings, Rennek, Whitner, Hammer, Battey, Cathey, McConnel, McDowell, Coborn, Ellet, Ellit, Goforth, Lepper, Runax, Davis, Potts, Robinson, Harris, Sherrill, Killin, Lambert, Hanee. McGee, Mangu and Price. These settlers came into a wilderness far from their homes in the northern colonies. The terrain was rigid and rough but filled with beautiful landscape beauty. You can imagine the roaring of the river as it once cascaded down the mountains briskly on it’s way to the piedmont area of North Carolina. The landscape surrounding this area has greatly changed over the years and the waters are now controlled to generate hydroelectricity. But, the period of the early settlers will always be present. They live among our family trees, our conversations to friends and neighbors. They live in historical museums and genealogy societies as remnants of the past preserved for the future. They live in each and every one of us. These people of the river, the early settlers along the Catawba.

Enjoy Your Journey !!

Thank you so much for visiting Piedmont Trails !! I greatly appreciate your support and wish each of you well on your journey to the past. Our ancestors left an amazing trail to follow !! Enjoy Your Journey !!


  • Map of Catawba River at McGowan’s Ford during 1794 by North Carolina Collections by North Carolina State Archives
  • Carolina Cradle by Robert Ramsey published University of North Carolina Press 1964
  • Augusta County, Virginia Records Volume I, page 414; II, page 509
  • Hammer Family Genealogy by Harriette Hammer(1905-1992) entitled Ancestors and Descendants of John Hammer by Family History Library
  • Lincoln County, North Carolina Will Records 1772-1964
  • Map of portions from original made by Henry Mouzon and James Cook published by Harper & Bros. in 1837 digital image provided by the North Carolina Archives
  • North Carolina Land Grants
  • Personal Collection of Carol Fuller of Piedmont Trails
  • Sherrill Monument photo courtesy of Susan Bowman taken 2012 on Find A Grave
  • St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Newton, NC
  • Virginia Gazette, Genealogy Column printed October 9, 1951 to January 9, 1953 by Hugh S Watson photo courtesy of Burley Idaho Family History Library on Family Search

3 replies »

  1. Please check over the names of the early settlers on the Catawba. I am searching for a Matthew Irvine or his son, Nathaniel Irwin. Some of the children changed the last name spelling to Erwin.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Susie,
      I show an Isaac Irvin applying for a land grant near the Catawba River in 1789. Abraham Irwin applied in 1778 and William Erwin in 1786. Both of these men applied for land grants near the Catawba River. Do you have a timeline date for Matthew or Nathaniel?


  2. A “Robart” Leeper is shown arriving in 1748, and registers land starting about 1750, the History of Gaston County calls him the “Old Pioneer”. As the area over time changes from Anson, Lincoln, Tyron, Gaston (and others depending on spot). The Gaston History said Robert Leeper and James Kuykendall owned nearly the whole point at one time, some researchers claim Robert owned +4,500 Acres. It can be seen that Robert and his wife Catherine/Katherine Armstrong did sell a number of large sections of land in the 1750’s. Catherine Armstrong is the daughter of Matthew Armstrong. His brother’s (James Leeper of Augusta, VA near Beverly Manor) son, Nicholas does come down and buy land 1762, from Robert Leeper and Catherine Armstrong. A great many families of the era, near Beatty’s Ford, and others can be found in this really awesome online book, for anyone at all curious about this area and era:

    According to History of Gaston Gaston County, Robert Leeper and Mr. Kuykendall and some others build the old fort there, and due to the security it offered against the Indians, others settled nearby. When they flooded the area and created Lake Norman, many historical places of the early settlers are now underwater. Though you will still find Armstrong’s road, Leeper’s Creek, a few things that reference the Beatty’s, etc. (Mary Beatty was the wife of Matthew Armstrong, and she was daughter of John Beatty). Later they actually locate the NC/SC state line there by the Catawba, right through one of Robert Leeper’s properties, and you will find his death probate and will, York, SC 1796. I see a series of 15 land grants, land deeds, and sales I was able to locate.

    Does anyone happen to know any more about the Leeper’s in the area/era? From Y-DNA and autosomal DNA, it is appearing more and more, that I’d be related to these folks, but unable to find connecting records, the family has been searching across three generations since 1950, for the ancestors of Jesse Leeper b.1823 Kaskaskia, IL, court guardianship records indicate he was the sole surviving heir of a Matthew Leeper and Malinda (but unable to find any further details).

    If you know of a living Leeper descendant, I am building a Y-DNA tree of the Leepers, I am looking for donors that would be willing to participate,

    Liked by 1 person

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