North Carolina

The Life Story of John “Jack” McBride 1804-1884

John “Jack” McBride was born into a family filled with Irish family traditions during the year of 1804. He experienced his younger years along the banks of the Mayo River and Troublesome Creek in present day Rockingham County, North Carolina. Named after his father, John learned the daily tasks of farm living and hunting the wilderness terrain between the North Carolina and Virginia state border. His father was born during the onset of the American Revolutionary War during 1775 and died circa 1806 at an early age. With his father dead at the age of 31, young John grew up with his mother, Elizabeth and his siblings, Nancy (1798), Greene (1802) and John’s twin brother, Isaiah (1804). No details have presented themselves as to the death of the elder John but the decision was made very early, that John McBride’s estate of 250 acres would be preserved for his heirs once they reached maturity.

Copy of John McBride’s will dated 1828-22 years after his death

John’s mother, Elizabeth King McBride, married John Vaughn several years after the death of her husband. John Vaughn agreed to keep the land set aside for the children’s sake as he continued to support the family by farming his own property and John McBride’s estate as well. As a step-father, John assisted with the tasks of teaching and raising the children. I think it was during this time period that little John became known to everyone as Jack.

Jack inherited 47 acres from his father’s estate. The property is outlined in the above drawing which is attached to the original will. Jack maintained the land for the next few years and married Elizabeth during the year of 1830. During the next ten years, Jack welcomed the addition of eight children and continued to be active with the McBride mill located along Troublesome Creek. The children of Jack are Edward (1831), Elizabeth (1834), Jefferson (1837), William Patrick (1837), Jennetta (1842), Ally (1842), Drury (1844) and Charles (1849). Jack continued to keep the 47 acres given to him by his father until the year of 1857 when he sold the land to J. Gentry. Several elder members of the McBride family had died during the previous years while others migrated west for new opportunities. The mill was now owned by others and Jack left Rockingham County circa 1854 and settled in Surry County near Araratt River. A deed was entered in the amount of 250 acres on December 27, 1856. The family prospered during these years. I’m sure the name Jack was used during the early years, but at this point, records began to indicate and confirm the nickname. Family legend proclaims that Jack was a “jack of all trades”, a smart individual who tackled any task with ease. We may never know the real reason for the nickname, but all who knew him, knew him as Jack rather than John.

Araratt River, Surry County, NC

Prior to the Civil War, Jack continued farming the hillsides of northern Surry County. The main crops consisted of tobacco and corn which lined the fertile fields below the Blue Ridge Mountains. Jack was interested in politics and stayed up to date with voting events occurring in Mt. Airy. By the spring of 1861, he joined others in voicing his opinion about the new president and the conditions of southern states with the current economy. He volunteered for the NC 21st Infantry in June of 1861 and marched with the regiment to Virginia. He was at the age of 57, a healthy man for his age. However; within 30 days later, he would be discharged due to his rheumatism and age. Jack returned home to Surry County and proclaimed his effort to the cause. He continued to follow the war and was eager to greet his sons back home who served. William Patrick returned home during the summer of 1864 and was soon married in November of 1864. A jubilee of a party was held and many people attended the affair.

Through the following years, Jack welcomed his grandchildren and lived his remaining days in the foothills of northern North Carolina. He died during the year of 1884 after 80 years of living. He is buried at the family cemetery located near the original homesite of 1854. An old road takes you through the rolling hills, Highway 103 outside of Mt. Airy. Just off the beaten path, a hill filled with headstones appears overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains to the north. A proper resting place for a man who witnessed many events during his lifetime.

McBride Family Cemetery-Surry County, NC

John “Jack” McBride never forgot his heritage or his family traditions. The old Irish tunes would play into the night air as he sipped on his corn whiskey. I’m sure many thoughts were given to his younger years. Growing up without his father had to be difficult for him and his siblings. As the years briskly went by, his contentment in knowing he lived a full life of 80 years had to be satisfying to him. The “Jack” of all trades, embraced his life and I like to think that he was satisfied with his accomplishments knowing, wrong or right, he gave it his best.


  • Rockingham County Register of Deeds Office Reidsville, NC
  • Photo of McBride Cemetery contributed by Find A Grave and A.W.R.
  • Surry County Register of Deeds Office Dobson, NC
  • Personal Family Documents, Letters, Etc.

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