Articles

The Road to Town Fork Settlement

If you look online for the location of Town Fork Settlement, the modern map guides you to an area at the end of Meadowlark Road in Stokes County, NC. This theory would place the settlement between NC Highway 65 and Brook Cove Road. But the question we are asking is, where is the original location of the Town Fork Settlement? Let’s investigate the clues and search the documents. There can be little doubt that the Town Fork Settlement is among one of the oldest settlements in the piedmont region of North Carolina.

Documents prove the existence of several families living in the area during the late 1740 decade. Where did they travel from, Virginia, South Carolina? What roads led them to this area? Who were they, and why did they settle along Town Fork Creek? Before we go any further, special thanks to all those; who researched the Town Fork area years ago and are no longer with us on earth. May we continue your journey and remember each of you along the way.

Town Fork Creek descends from a spring at the base of Sauratown Mountain and flows southward into the Dan River just a few miles east of Walnut Cove. Various records have allowed us to document families living along Town Fork, Old Field, and Lick Creeks by 1747. To settle the area during this timeframe required a road or roads to be available for travel. The Great Wagon Road Project has discovered two dating between 1745 and 1747. One of these is the most heavily traveled colonial road in our nation’s history, the Great Wagon Road. The other is a lesser-known route but deserves recognition because of its destination. The original road is an old shortcut used as a footpath from the Saura tribe to the Sapona tribe in present-day Wilkes County. Later it was widened naturally as a trading route during the 1730 decade and transformed into a mining road after the Saura tribe merged mainly with the Catawba tribe. The mining road bears the name Limestone Road. Its destination is the limestone quarry found in the Town Fork Creek area. This road traveled in a west to east direction. Unlike the Great Wagon Road which traveled in a more north to south direction.

Photo of Limestone

The Saura tribe left the area by 1733. William Bryd visited the site known as the Saura Town and documented their presence was no longer there. For a decade, the land lay dormant, or did it? To date, Piedmont Trails does not have the evidence to prove families were living in the area before 1740, but it is possible. According to his diary, Christopher Gist settled in the area circa 1747. Gist may have led other families with him who traveled from the west like himself. A Baptist preacher among the list embarks to the New River area the year before and later appears in the Town Fork Creek area with Gist. His name is James Hampton. One of the essential elements in creating a colonial community is the foundation of religion. James Hampton offered this solution. Phillip Wilson, Enoch Lewis, Thomas Burns, William Haltham, Thomas Runnels, James McKoin, Matthew Couch, and John Stroud make up the traveling party. This group of people met others who were traveling the Great Wagon Road through the area during the following year, 1748. They were Morgan Bryan, Thomas Linville, Edward Hughes, Squire Boone, Henry Banner, Jacob Waggoner, and James Carter. In the years that followed, many families traveled to the settlement using these two main routes. A prime example of the western route is the case of Michael Spoenhauer/Spainhour and his wife Barbara Mueller, who settled in the Town Fork Creek area in November of 1754. The couple lived in the Town Fork Settlement from November to March 1755, when they moved to the mill in Bethabara. They later signed a brotherly agreement with the Moravians and purchased a lot approximately 2 miles from Bethania. The Moravian diaries note that the Spoenhauer party traveled from the west to reach the piedmont area. This documentation leaves little doubt that they used the Limestone Road to reach their destination.

To learn the details about an 18th-century settlement, you observe and acknowledge the growth patterns. How did Town Fork Settlement grow over the next decade? The land deeds provide evidence, and during the research, the appearance of the Great Wagon Road appears in its 282-year history in North Carolina. Following Lick Creek and Old Field Creek, we see the settlement growth through the surveys of William Churton and others. As the years go by to 1760, the new roads appear, joining the two older ones here and there.

The Moravians hired men living in Town Fork to create a road in the first weeks of autumn in 1753. This road connected to Limestone Road and traveled to the Wachovia tract, covering 12 miles from the corner of William Haltham’s property. Once Dobb’s Parish became the symbol recognizing the Church of England in 1755, the Moravians holding control within the parish petitioned several roads leading to their primary settlements, Bethabara and Bethania. These roads were Shallow Ford Road, South Fork Road, and Cape Fear Road, to name a few. The latter was also known as the King’s Road in the piedmont area. The route created in 1753 from Haltham’s property altered little until 1772 when it became the Salem Road.

The growth of Town Fork Settlement downsized during the Cherokee attacks from 1757 to 1761. Many families left the area for safety. Upon their return, they found their lands owned by others, such as in the case of Thomas Carmichael. His land was labeled vacant, and the Moravians became the owner of his property. Before Carmichael handed the deed to Brother Gammern, the Moravians agreed to pay Carmichael 38£. cited June 19, 1761-Moravian Diaries

Original Town Fork Settlement Site Today

Town Fork Settlement endured many changes through the years. Families came and went, and many of the 18th-century lineages are still in the area today. The construction of the Germanton courthouse allowed settlement further north and west, and the Belews Creek Settlement remained close neighbors to the east. The old stage road from the 1790s into the 19th century passed close by as portions of Limestone Road and the Great Wagon Road lay forgotten in the past. Town Fork Settlement was originally between Germanton and Walnut Cove, bordering Brook Cove Road. The center would have been 3 miles east of present-day Germanton and 2 1/2 miles west of Walnut Cove. It is one of the oldest settlements in the piedmont area dating before 1750. One can only imagine the action these two old roads must have witnessed. We share in the delight of their existence and their destinations. May they linger longer in our family trees and our conversations. The old trails deserve their place in our history. The old roads leading to Town Fork Settlement live on today. We may not know every rock in the path or every ford crossing, but we know our ancestors traveled upon them, and that, my friend, is a priceless gift to remember.

Sources:

  • 1733 Surveys and Journal of William Byrd
  • 1770 John Collett NC map
  • Central States Archaeological Journal Volume 55 No. 3 pg. 140
  • Duke Energy maps released of Belews Creek and Town Fork Creek for study and analysis
  • Gist, Christopher-Journal notes from 1745 thru 1751 (describing Limestone Road from Virginia border through Wilkes County, Yadkin County, Forsyth County to Stokes County, NC.)
  • Loughlin, Gerald Francis Limestones and Marls of North Carolina published by Edwards & Broughton 1921 pg. 151
  • North Carolina Colonial & State Records Volume 9 pgs. 47-48, Volume 5 pgs. 810-817 concerning establishment of Dobbs Parish
  • North Carolina Land Grants Bk 14 p 407, Bk 12 p 12, Bk 14 p 419, Bk 14 p 482, Bk 6 p 172, Bk 12 p 52, Bk 6 p 109, Bk 6 p 160, Bk 12 p 40
  • Moravian Diaries notes taken from Southern Moravian Archives dating from 1752 thru 1765
  • Personal correspondence and notes from Phyllis Hoots, Faye Moran and Judy Cardwell (Special thanks for their information over the years)
  • Phillips, Laura Field Investigative Study conducted in 1989 by the Stokes County Historical Society
  • Quarry Study-personal research with Bolejack Limestone Quarry, Martin Quarry, Roger’s Ore Bank,
  • Soil Survey of Stokes County, North Carolina, United States Department of Agriculture published 1995
  • Stokes County Register of Deeds Danbury, NC-notes taken from deeds, wills/probates and court records
  • University of North Carolina Research Laboratories of Archaeology personal correspondence concerning the Saura Village

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