Sunday, September 6, 2009

Trespassers in the Alston Quarter

Here's a little bit of further interpretation on this map:
Alston Quarter 1763 small

First, this map is redrafted from an earlier survey or surveys. It's not clear who made this, but I suggested it might be W. D. Bennet. David Southern says it might by Miles Philbeck. Either way, I do not know what document it is drawn from - it would be interesting to find that.

Second, the map shows parts of the land grants belonging to five different men:
Richard Everard (labeled Averett on the map),
Robert Forster,
John Lovwick (or Lovewick),
Edward Moseley,
George Moore,
and Lewis Conner.

Of these men, Moseley, Little and Lovwick were part of the surveying party that established the dividing line between North Carolina and Virginia in 1729. Many of those in the party were granted choice pieces of land in exchange for their service (it was a dangerous mission into the wilderness at the time). Moseley and Lovwick apparently chose parts of the highly desirable Haw Old Fields - lands traditionally settled by Native Americans, but more or less abandoned due to declining populations, disease, colonial pressure etc. Copies of Lovwick's grant and one of Moseley's are at the SHC at UNC and show taht they were granted by Lord John Carteret (later Lord Granville) in Nov. 1728 and reconveyed to George Burrington in 1730.

Richard Everard was the last Governor under the Lords Proprietor of North Carolina serving from 1725-1731. He is credited with initiating the NC-VA border survey (and little else). Everard evidently got a choice piece of the Haw Fields as well. His land passed to his grandson George Lathbury or Lashbury or Lashberry. Lathbury's 1o,000 acres passed to Edund Fanning, Abner Nash and Thomas Hart in 1770 for 670 Pounds, but only Nash's third was spared from confiscation following the Revolution (p. 45 2nd Report of the Ontario Archives, Alexander Fraser, 1904; State Records of NC, Vol 24, pg 285). Likely Sheriff John Butler wound up owning a part of the Everard tract. See Orange DB 3, pg 462.

This leaves the question of who Lewis Conner, Robert Forster and George Moore were. I am not sure who they were, but they were clearly all important folks in North Carolina around 1730.

George Moore (or Roger?) received this tract on 12 Nov. 1728. This land was later known as the Alston Quarter or Austin Quarter and over 1,000 acres of it is still in single ownership as a single lot. Moore's land apparently passed to a member of the Ashe family (a lawyer who was involved in the litigation over Strudwick's 30,000 acres - see below). The Ashe family included Gov. Samuel Ashe among many other notables. His grave is supposed to be there on the Alston Quarter (per Stockard's History of Alamance).

All of the tracts between Everhard's and Moore's, totalling almost 30,000 acres were somehow coveyed to Gov. George Burrington. This constituted all of the area that is now Hawfields, Saxapahaw and Swepsonville. Burrington tried to sell the Hawfields tracts several times including through an ad that ran in the Virginia Gazette 2/10/1738, a transcript of which is here:

Here are his descriptions of the five tracts [with my interpretations]:

1. The Tract of Land which was Mr. Robert Forrester’s, containing 2425 Acres. The first Tract lies between Sir Richard’s Land, and Marrowbone River.
[This is between the Everard-Lashbury tract and Back Creek - i.e. the area just upstream of Back Creek. Note that in one of the Land Grants in the SHC at UNC, it refers to neighboring property owner Robert Porter.]

2. The Tract of Land which was Mr. William Little’s, containing 4200 Acres. The second Tract lies between Marrow bone River, and Flat Branch; and has in it on the River, Saxapahaw, Low ground Run, and Indian Banch; and on Marrow-bone River, one Run or Branch. Flat Branch is opposite to the Entry of Arrunky River.
[Flat Branch is probably one of the creeks that flows into the Haw in Swepsonville, perhaps the one that flows almost immediately through the Virginia Mills site. Arrunky is clearly a mis-spelling of Aramanchey or Alamance. No real idea where Lowground Run or Indian Branch are, but he appears to mean that they are tributaries of the Haw directly. One Run – Lone Run? – is a tributary of Back Creek, but it is not clear which one, perhaps Mill Creek. Little's Tract includes the upper part of Swepsonville including the millsite.]

3. The Tract of Land which was Mr. John Lovick’s, containing 4200 Acres. The third Tract lies between Flat Branch and Buffelo Creek; and in it, on the said Saxapahaw River, is Dry Branch, and the Westward Indian Trading Path.
[The trading path apparently passed right through here and this would be consistent with maps which show the trading path crossing the Haw immediately upstream of Big Alamance Creek. Lovwick's Tract includes the lower part of the Town of Swepsonville and the Puryear Mill site.]

4. The Tract of Land which was Mr. Edward Moseley’s, containing 10000 Acres. The fourth Tract lies between Buffelo Creek, and Island Creek: At the South East Corner of the third Tract turns with an Elbow North, and passing by the East Ends of the first Three Tracts, terminates on the East Line of Sir Richard Everard’s; and is bounded on the East, with the afore mentioned Lands of Mr. Jones, and Major [James?] Pollock. In this Tract, are Jumping Run, Fish pond Branch, and the Pond; all on Saxapahaw River.
[Jumping Run is probably merely the east branch of Haw Creek, misinterpreted for a time as being a direct tributary of the Haw; no idea what the Fishpond Branch or the Pond were.]

5. The Tract of Land which was Mr. Edward Moseley’s, containing 8400 Acres. The fifth Tract lies between Island Creek [Meadow Creek], and Rocky Run, in a Sort of Triangle; and in it are Briery Creek [Motes Creek?], and Brick house Branch [Hobby Branch?].
[This is essentially the area just NW of the Alston Quarter and includes Saxapahaw and the Cedar Cliffs Mill.]

All of this land was sold by Gov. George Burrington to Samuel Strudwick per a deed recorded in the New Hanover County in 1754. When Strudwick came to America a decade later he discovered taht all sorts of folks had moved onto his land and commenced litigation (the map above apparently was a part of the litigation). It seems that the matter was not entirely resolved in Strudwick's favor. Some of the 'intruders' were there under color of title obtained from Granville's agents, who presumably did not really have a legitimate claim to the land since it was conveyed previously to the folks who were in Strudwick's chain of title. Nonetheless, a series of deeds from Strudwick appear to convey much of the land onward to Thompsons, Clendenins, Morrows, Millikans etc.

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