Saturday, March 11, 2023

Vibing With the Land

Anson County reeks history. You can drink it in the air, hear it on the wind, and feel it in the dirt beneath your feet. Every county in North Carolina has history, but  some, like Mecklenburg, have buried theirs under skyscrapers, strip malls and apartment complexes growing faster than wild onions. 
Mother Anson has cherished hers. Some beautiful buildings are lovingly preserved, while others struggle openly and pleadingly, to hold off mother nature. 

In Mecklenburg, creeks are shuttled under highways and through concrete culverts. One could never know that they were there. Not in Anson, where they roam as freely as they did in 1783. 

I went on a recent trek to purview the areas in which my ancestors, the Faulkners, lived, so many years ago. The creeks and branches remain. Roads and farms still bear the names of families whose properties bordered that of the Faulkners. While nearly all of the Faulkners migrated away, before 1820, to Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky and beyond, many of the neighbors stayed, and their descendants are still there. 

I started with the grave of May Buchanan. He was the result of a union between two of the Faulkners neighbors, the Mays and the Buchanons.

When Benjamin Buchanan migrated from Chatham County, NC, he settled near the May family, who already had a congregate presence in the area. May was the son of Benjamin Buchanan and Judith May. 

While I was not prepared to trek through the woods to find the ancient grave among the weeds and wildlife, I did want to connect to the general area. These old family cemeteries were usually located on the families property, within view of the homestead, when persons were a distance from the church cemetery. Some families maintain these old family cemeteries to this day. 

Like the creeks, they are pinpoints on a map, that says ' this is where they lived'.  There were other Family Cemeteries in this area that bespoke the same surnames from two centuries back, Cason, Gulledge, Huntley, Hildreth. 

I found out years ago, when I first began searching for the spots my ancestors walked, there was a certain feeling that I would get when I found the right place. A familiarity, a oneness, a memory, if that can be said, kinship, an accord, a ... Belonging. 

The above idealic woodland scene is what Featherbed Branch looks like today. It meanders quietly through fields and pastures, snakes through trees and rocks and over roots in the wooded areas. I felt this belonging the first time I came across Featherbed Creek, without knowing what it was. 

The first time, I was going from one Hildreth cemetery to the other and found it, quite accidentally, and something felt magnetic. Something felt like home.

When I dove in depth into the origins of the Faulkners, I discovered that they lived on Featherbed Branch. When I returned to Anson County to find it, I discovered it was the same spot I had been to just a few months prior.  It was familiar in more ways than one.

Featherbed Branch, for the most part, runs parellel and between two roads. Teal Hall is about the only semi-paved one that crosses it. NC 742 runs near, but doesn't cross it. 

This land remains fertile and ancient farmland. The citizens still bear the names that the westward movers took with them, no greener, just different, pastures.

In the wooded mound below lies an old graveyard, and the body of John Cason, a Faulkner neighbor .

The below little branch is called Mill Creek, where Asa Faulkner had a mill for a brief time in the early 1800's.  One of the last Faulkners to leave the area, except for two of the children of Asa William Luther Faulkner, was a John Falkner, whose property bordered that of Asa and Elijah Faulkner, and also that of the Chiles, Wisdoms and Buchanans. He was there until about 1825, and then disappeared. Did he relocate? Did he die? And who was he? He wasn't my John, who was just a small child then. How was he connected to Asa and Nathan and the other Faulkners?

Some of my day of exploration was just finding interesting signs and beautiful places.

I found myself in The Valley of the Moon, and among old farms and livestock ranches, and poultry houses that must have had seen things in their day.

In the distance I saw a church with a cemetery that I was sure must have held the bones of some of those who had passed this way.

Instead, it was more modern than it looked, and it's inhabitants were not those of who I sought.
The above screenshot of my maps shows how close I was to the Huntley Cemetery off of Gulledge Road and how close it is to the South Fork of Jones Creek. Those who have kept up with me recently will find those names familiar, Gulledge, Huntley, South Fork of Jones Creek.

As I was looking, I had an audience looking at me.

A view from the cemetery.

The above census excerpt shows a John Falkner living near John Buchanan and two Michael Crawfords after the other Faulkners left the area.

Robinson and Jarman, were again, two families that lived near the Faulkners and are mentioned in random deeds and both are shown in these intersected street signs.

The above intersection is close to where they must have lived.

Another cemetery view.

This very interesting old tree has some years on it. What a beautiful tree as it reaches into the winter sky. I wish it could talk.

The Don Valley sign is all that is apparently left of an interesting place. Now cows live there.

If I'm not mistaken, this path would lead to the Buchanan's cemetery. I would not trespass, as it's posted 

A beautiful farm pond on a crisp, sunny day.

An old poultry building.

After vibing with the land where my ancestors once walked, it was time to head home to my civilization and modern times. I drove home and left the past behind. It was now time to follow the paths of the ones who left to see what they could reveal.

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