Sunday, August 17, 2014

Finding a Small Gem: The Methodist Circuit

The problem in making hundreds of copies of all manners of things I might find useful in my research is at some point, sometimes, I may have forgotten where the information came from. For instance, I may have copied the cover page, but then the contents get shuffled, in say, my daughter cleaning out the back seat of the car, so she can load it with friends and dumping my research in the trunk.

Not everyone in my family treasures all of my diligence and hard work in information gathering as I do, in fact none of them do. I take heart in the fact that one day, when age sets in, they might. Right now, they live only in the present. No regard for the future. No regard for the past. The eldest of them are starting to have regard for the future, as the paths of their lives unfold before them. I am blessed to have had 4. Such a perfect number, two sons and two daughters. A large family for this day and age, but I could imagine no less. My sons have a brother, my daughters have a sister and the all have each other, and my hopes are that at least one of them, if not all of them, at some point, will treasure the past and perserve and respect all the work and memories preserved, by myself, my maternal grandfather, and my Dad. With me getting it honest on both sides, there's bound to be one of them who has that gene.

But in all that, the following gem is something I pulled out from the trunk. I know I found it among records found in the Margaret Johnson Heritage Room. 

There were two pages. As the first page was an article written by Rev. I. L. Sharpe, I am going to assume the entire compilation is due to him. The initials "I. L.", stands for Ivey Lawrence Sharpe. The Hill's Albemarle (Stanly County, NC) City Directory, 1951  gives Rev. Sharpe's location and occupation as the pastor of Badin Methodist Church. He must have also been a lover of history.

Methodism is close to my heart, as I have discovered that one branch of my family history has ties to it back to its origins. The Davis, Winfields, Howells, Floyds, Freemans, Tillmans, Ledbetters, Penningtons, Fieldings and related families that came down from Southside Virginia to settle along the Yadkin / PeeDee and Rocky Rivers were among these. While there were Scotch-Irish coming in from the Rowan area and Highland Scotch coming in from the East and the Sandhills through the Moore/Montgomery area, and probably first, the Germans coming in from the Cabarrus area where some of the first settled along Dutch Buffalo Creek, very near Stanly, there were a small tingent of these Welsh/English descended Methodist Episcopal settlers who followed the Great Wagon Road into the Yadkin Valley and the ones from whom I descend settled near the forks of the Yadkin and Rocky Rivers, many owning land both on the Anson and Montgomery (later Stanly) side, as the Rocky, a small river, was not a great challenge to cross.

Job Davis, my Great, Great, Great, Great-Grandfather and indomitable brick wall, for whom my blog is named, showed a great interest in Methodism, as shown in his estate records and the large collection of books on the subject. He and his wife were at least members of the Hay Street Methodist Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, established in 1832, which is now the Hay Street United Methodist Church. The following is from their site explaining their long and impressive history:

History of Hay Street United Methodist Church

Job had bought a "Summer House", a brick townhouse on Hay Street, after two of his stepsons, Jordan and John W. Howell, had moved to the growing business center in order to become businessmen instead of farmers or planters. Evidence exists that Job ensured the education of both his stepsons as well as his own 4 sons, as they all show proof of a good educational background for the time. While oldest stepson, Peter Howell, became a gentleman farmer, collecting piece by piece, all of the land that had belonged to his father, Richard Howell and to his namesake Grandfather, Peter Howell. Only sister in the bunch, Charlotte, who like a long list of descendants of Charlotte Freeman Winfield, was named for her grandmother, married a Methodist Minister, Rev. Levi Stancill, and they migrated to Newton County, Georgia. Job and Sarah kept the summer house for 23 years, until they likely got too old and feeble to travel that long distance for Sarah to visit her absentee sons, at which time he sold the house to one of them.

The following excerpt is from the article titled "Stanly County Methodism" by Rev. I. L. Sharpe. 

"The Story of the Development of our Nation, as well as our State, in the main is the Story of the development of of Church and Religious Life......"

"The first settlers in this area were likely to be Germans. The Lutheran, and Reform Churches are among the oldest in this section of our State. The Scotch-Irish came possibly a little later, and with them came the Primitive Baptist Church. Shortly afterwards, or about the same time, the people called Methodists, made their way along the Yadkin River territory. Officially, the Methodists came in 1780, when the Yadkin Circuit was formed. The first Methodist Preacher was Rev. Andrew Yeargen. He found 21 Methodists in all this Region, without a minister, and without churches. But he went to work, visiting the few scattered families found along the meandering Yadkin River. We have came a long way since that far-off day, ....."

Following this was a list of the Methodist Churches in the area, and the year they were organized. The total of the present (at that time) listing was 34.

Randall              1813                  Norwood (Center) 1825            Stony Hill   1826
Salem                 1844                  Loves Chapel        1849            Wesley  Chapel   1850   
Central             1852                   Bethel                    1853            Rehobeth           1854      
Cedar Grove (McSwain's Grove) 1859                                         Love's Grove      1860  

Friendship      1870                   Mt Zion          1879                    Palestine          1880     
Mt. Tabor        1884                   House Grove  1911                    Oak Grove       1885    
New London (Bilesville) 1889       First Street (Century)    1900   Main St.     1909
Green Memorial    1906           Bethany    1912                          Porter              1913           
Oakboro         1914                   Badin       1919                          Tabernacle      1922   
Union Chapel   1925                Richfield  1929                         Pfeiffer Chapel  1940
Parkway         1948                   Locust       1959                         Bethesday       1951
Matton's Grove..... (he gives no date for Matton's Grove, but it is a very old and established church. According to their own history on their website, it was first organized in 1868.)
History of Matton's Grove UMC

Continuing with Rev. Sharpe's essay, the following were a list of disbanded Methodist Churches:

Former Methodist Churches

Providence   (disbanded 1901)
Swift Island   1895
Palmerville - merged with Badin
Zoar - merged with Union Chapel
Bethesda -no record of deed - merged with Union Chapel
Big Lick - merged with Oakboro  1883

There may have been more, but these were according to Rev. Sharpe's research. I separated the churchs established before "The War" and after the war with a line, as these congregations were of two separate personalities. Churches were all over in the 1800's, as travel was more difficult than it is today and as is today, different groups within a church may have had a disagreement between themselves and one groups would branch off into a new one. Others combined as their attendance became low, with other similar churches. I've heard of several congregations during these years being decimated due to a large group of them deciding to migrate west together, leaving behind the aged and infirm, or those with children too young to travel, and the congregations left behind having to fold. That said, many an abandoned "family" graveyard, may have been accompanied by a "Meeting House", as the one mentioned in Job Davis's will, circa 1852.

Rev. Ivey mentioned that the Methodist Circuit was established in 1780. Peter Winfield and his in-laws, the Robinsons, (Drury, James and etc. married to Mary and Martha Winfield, his nieces), the Meanleys (Richard and Keziah Freeman Meanley) and the Freemans (brothers of his wife Charlotte Freeman) and possibly some Marshalls arrived here circa 1785.  Job Davis and his attachment, the Floyds, Tillmans and others, possibly Ledbetters, Penningtons and Ezells, arrived about a decade later. The Howells were already here, as early as 1765.

Winfield Road was an old Stanly County road, only a portion of it, near the town of Aquadale, is still in existence. According to old road records, it was once a long and well-traveled road. It began in Albemarle and wound down past the old abandoned, but still in good conditon, Rehobeth Church and along part of what is now, probably Old Davis Road and crossed what is now woods and scrub and a road no longer, to the old Ford. It picks up, still in existence, in Anson County. An old map from right after the Revolution, shows the location of Colson's Mill, where a Revolutionary skirmish, or battle took place, and just west of it, down the Rocky, the location of "Winfield's Ford". Winfield's Ford and Davis Ford, I am nearly 100% certain, are the same Ford. Location belies it, as also that Job Davis and sons continued on their portion of Peter Winfield's estate after his death in 1802, and Job's subsequent marriage to his daughter Sarah, the widow of Richard Howell, who died the same year as his father-in-law, just at a later date, as shown by his mention in land records.

I had never known of, or heard mention of, a congregation known as "Winfield's" until the article by Rev. Sharpe. Perhaps it was only a gathering of the Winfield and associated families, maybe a few neighbors, and could have been held in an informal meeting house, or possibly in just their 'dwelling house'. But the discovery is a gem indeed. There is no doubt about which family it was, as Peter was the only Winfield to stay in the Stanly/Montgomery/Anson county area, along with his 4 children: Edward, who married Susanna Lee and was known as "Esquire" in his later years; Sarah, married Richard Howell and second, Job Davis; Jemima, who married Griffin Nash and Ancena, who married first, James Morrison and second Thomas Avett.

Descendants of Peter Howell were involved in the establishment of Rehobeth and also in the establishment of  Concord United Methodist Church, just across the river in Anson County. Due to the establishment of the properties of Peter's son-in-laws, I've been able to establish the range and approximate location of his former properties and plantations. From south of Rocky River Springs, to the Old Davis Road section along the Rocky River, and along "Plank Road", where the Benjamin Franklin Davis lands lay, inherited from Henry Davis, Job's oldest son, to the Howell Road, Kendall Road area of Anson near Concord UMC church, which was deaded by Griffin Nash, son-in-law of Peter Winfield and other descendants.

 His in-law, Drury Robertson, was one of the first owners of the Rocky River springs properties, as evidenced by mentions in deeds located in Marlboro County, South Carolina, where Drury Robertson Jr and wife, Mary Winfield Robertson, settled along with the sibling combinations of James Robertson (this surname is also seen as Robinson and other variations) and wife Martha Winfield Robertson and their brothers, Joel and John B. Winfield, sister Dorothy Winfield Walker and husband James Robley Walker, and stepsiblings, Booth Robertson and Robertson Carloss. (Peter's brother Joshua, who remained in Virginia, first married Charlotte Freeman Winfield's sister Jemima Freeman and second the widow Rebecca  Thrower Carloss, daughter of Hezekiah Thrower and widow of Archeous Carloss. Some of his children evidentally migrated along with their uncle Peter, as evidenced by appearance in the Anson cemsus of 1790, and then before the 1800 census, to Marlboro County around the Bennettsville area. Drury Robertson Sr., remained in Anson County and died there and Drury Robertson Jr. in Marlboro County, SC became a Senator and his daughter, to whom he left properties around Rocky River in Montgomery County and also the springs in Anson (later Richmond) married an Ellerbe.

And now for my treasure:

 This listing of the 1807 Methodist Circuit lists contributions by Congregations along the circuit. The mention of "Creoles", and "Lowries" suggest these congregations may have been in present day Robeson County or possibly even Richmond or Marlboro. Typed over is the word "Winfield" and followed by the word Mills with a contribution of $1.50 and $2.25. Perhaps this was in the area of a Mill that was operated once by Winfields and later by someone else. Or else, a Congregation known as mainly a family of Mills. Threadgills and Lanes Creek were definitely Anson County Congregations, in the northern part, near Ansonville, Burnsville and not far off the Rocky River. P. Randles, Stony Hill and J. Randles, were no doubt "Peter Randal'ls and John Randall's and Stony Hill, the locations of which are now in Stanly County, Stony Hill being near Morrow Mountain State Park, John Randall's, the current location of Randall's Church and Peter Randall's, uncertain, but likely along "Ugly Creek" near the Rocky River, due to land records. Peter's daughter Martha, married Jordan Howell, brother of Richard Howell, Sarah Winfield's first husband.

But below Lane's Creek and above P. Randall's is mentioned the Winfield Congregation. This was five years after Peter's death, so no doubt head by Edward Winfield, only son and his wife, Susanna Lee Winfield, and five children, Arthur Freeman Winfield, who served in the War of 1812, married Mary Louis Burroughs, daughter of Bryan Burroughs and Sallie Waddell,  and later migrated to Perry County, Alabama; Eliza M. Winfield, who married William Lilly, had two known children and died young, in her twenties; John Winfield, who married Eliza Beard, daughter of Michael Beard of Rowan, and late in life migrated to Pope County, Arkansas, Peter Winfield II, who married Mary "Polly" Goldston, daughter of Thomas Jefferson Goldston (Ghoulston, Gholston) and Lydia Waddell Goldston. He died in 1830 and left two sons. His widow married the Rev. John R. Barber and most of this family is buried at Brown Creek Church near Burnsville, Anson County. All Anson County Winfields are descended from his son John Peter Winfield who died in the Civil War leaving a widow and four young sons. JP's brother William, died of typhoid, and childless and is buried at Brown Creek.

Youngest son Milton Winfield owned property and had estate records in both Anson and Stanly Counties. He married Mary Ann Pickler, daughter of John Davis Pickler and Barbara McMakins Pickler. (I've often wondered if Jane Davis, who was also from Virginia and married John Pickler the first, was related to Job.) Milton died childless and his widow, Mary Ann Pickler Winfield became the second wife of Milton's first cousin, Marriott Freeman Davis. M. F Davis and Mary Ann did not have any children. He only had son Millard F. Davis by first wife, Elizabeth Turner,daughter of Bedith Broadway Turner and  and a daughter Rebeth who died at 18 months old not long after her mother.

There may have been neighbors in this congregation. Perhaps Lees, or Marshalls, or Kendalls or Poplins. Or relatives like Threadgills or Davis's or Nashes. The treasure is finding there was a Congregation known as "Winfield" along this Stanly/Anson Methodist Circuit in the long-ago year of 1807.

1 comment:

  1. I’m researching my ancestor John B Winfield and reached a wall. I’m delighted to have found your blog! I’m wanting to the John B Winfield listed where you write “the brothers Joel and John B Winfield” and the John Winfield you list as marrying Eliza Beard the same John Winfield? And I was trying to figure out who John B winfield’s father was and was hoping you could clarify that too? Thank you!