Volume 8, Number 3, Spring 1983
In 1748 a "small army of Locks and Brandons"1 followed the Old Carolina Road from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina. Their conquest was not military; their conquest was personal. They wanted land.
Where did the people who joined this southerly migration originally come from? The Brandon and Lock families had come on the same boat from London, England. About 1739 widower John Brandon married widow Elizabeth Lock.2 Later two of John Brandon's children married two of Elizabeth Lock's children. The Armstrong family was Scotch-Irish. John Knox, great-grandfather of President James K. Polk, arrived in North Carolina about 1757.3 His grandaughter, Polly Knox, married Benjamin Brandon.
Why should thlese families leave the Pennsylvania area? The Brandons may have had several good reasons. With the death of William Brandon, younger family members received their portion of his estate and were then financially able to leave.4 Also, land was considerably cheaper in North Carolina. It sold for 5 s. per hundred acres in 1753 compared to the 1732 price of 15 per hundred acres in Pennsylvania.5 It is not likely that this large family traveled south with little or no idea of where they were going. Perhaps, like the Armstrong family, they sent one of their family members south to scout for the best land available.6 For whichever reasons they came, they were among the first fourteen families in the Irish settlement, located on Second Creek.7
Although the Brandon-Lock family arrived about 1748, their land grants were not dated until 1752. This was typical of many of the early settlers in this area. The land belonged to Lord Granville, and some of the settlers had petitioned for land but never taken out warrants to survey for clear title. It wasn't that they couldn't afford the land; it was just that they were unwilling to spend the money until it was necessary. In 1752, the necessity arose. The Governor's Council posted the notice that all warrantees had to take out their patents within eight months or forfeit their right and title to the land. Taking out a patent meant paying for the land, paying quit rents, and paying for an official survey which was then recorded.8
There were some problems between settlers and surveyors. In 1758, one surveyor extorted money from settlers but never turned it in. This prevented the settlers from getting their deeds.9 In 1749 a group of men, including two of the Brandons, set upon a man surveying their land and drew their swords and threatened to shoot him with their guns.10
In the year 1752, John Brandon obtained a grant of 630 acres on Grant's Creek. His son Richard obtained 480 acres, son William 1,000 acres near Sills Creek11 and son John, Jr. 640 acres on Buffalo Creek. The three Lock step-sons received a total of 1 ,485 acres of land in grants.12 The early land grants were clustered on waterways.
Some land was purchased from speculators. In 1762, James Brandon and his brother-in-law James Armstrong purchased a tract of land from Patrick Campbell.13 Since Campbell had never lived in Carolina, he may have acquired the land for speculative purposes.
There were many firsts in these early years. William Brandon, born May 13, 1748, was the first white male born west of the Yadkin River.14 About 1749 the first church west of the Yadkin was built - Thyatira Presbyterian Church. In 1753 the county courthouse was built at a crossroads. One of these roads, which lead to John Brandon's plantation, was originally an Indian trading path.15
Indians were a problem for many years. Settlers felt the effects of the French and Indian War from 1753 to 1760.16 In 1754 John Brandon helped to prepare a resolution that an expedition against the French and Indians of Ohio be paid out of money left from building forts.17 In 1756, there were an estimated 1531 taxable persons in Rowan County but in 1759 there were less than 800.18 Many of the settlers had fled east of the Yadkin for protection. In 1757 James Carter and John Brandon Jr., the first members of the Assembly from Rowan County, were entrusted with five hundred pounds to purchase arms and ammunition for the defense of the frontier province of Rowan.19
Some families contributed a number of sons to fight in the Revolutionary War. James Brandon, son of John Brandon Jr., was very patriotic during the war. In 1775 he was clerk to the Committee of Safety for Rowan County.20 And he was appointed second major of Rowan Minute Men by the Provincial Congress of Hillsborough, N.C.21 James Brandon encouraged his sons to fight during the Revolutionary War. His son Abel said "his father, James Brandon, always encouraged and recommended his brothers to serve their country against the enemy."22
Three sons, William, James, and Benjamin, served during the war. James was killed during a battle. According to a family story, his horse came home a distance of seventeen miles and his friends went to the battlefield to claim his body.23 According to another family
story, Benjamin was wounded in the knee and hid in bushes until the Tories and British passed him by unnoticed.24
Benjamin was also part of a group that captured and hung Tories who were trying to entice Indians into attacking settlers sympathetic to the Revolution.25
By the 1790's the Yadkin Valley had lost its frontier newness. Institutions were established and life proceeded more smoothly. In 1790 James Brandon died and, through his will, divided his land among his sons. The three oldest sons received equal shares of a saw mill and the tract of land on which each was then living. The remaining two minor sons were to divide the plantation on which their step-mother was living. Also, James divided his slaves among his children.26 It was also about this time that James' cousin Elizabeth Brandon served breakfast to President Washington and several of his aides as they were enroute from Charlotte to Salisbury.27
The period of time that Brandons lived in Rowan County ranged from about 1748 to about 1810. The 1790 census showed 14 Brandon families, the 1800 census showed 12 families, and the 1810 census showed no Brandon families. Perhaps the land was beginning to wear down. Perhaps the urge to find new and cheap land won out. The Brandons scattered. William Brandon took his family to Smith County, Tennessee.28 Benjamin and his two youngest brothers went to Tennessee in 1804 and then to Miami County, Ohio in 1808.29
In 1851 guardians of minor John Hannibal McClary appeared in Miami County Court and requested that he receive bounty land to which he was entitled. John Hannibal McClary was the final remaining minor child of John Hamilton McClary who had served under Captain Buchanan during the War of 1812.30 According to an 1850 Act of Congress, John Hannibal McClary could claim land based on his father's service.31
John was fortunate as an orphan to have a guardian, his Uncle Benjamin K. Brandon, watch out for his interests, and a brother, James McClary, who was willing and able to raise him. Life was not always easy for an orphan.
John's father had died when John Jr. was 14 years old and his mother Elizabeth Brandon McClary had died when he was 4 years old. The Brandon family had come to Ohio via Tennessee about 1808. Grandfather Benjamin Brandon had reportedly helped lay out the town of Piqua, Ohio.32 He was a Revolutionary War veteran who lived to the age of 80. During the last six years of his life he collected a veteran's pension of $80 a year.33
The McClary family had come from Kentucky and possibly Virginia before that. John Hamilton McClary was born in 1788 in Kentucky when it was still a part of Virginia.34 According to a 1789 tax list, Samuel McClary was living in Fayette County so he may have been John's father. Samuel McClary received a Virginia land grant of 1125 acres in Fayette County, Kentucky in 1785. Perhaps this grant was given for service during the Revolutionary War. A Samuel McCleery from Augusta County, Virginia served in Captain Cunningham's Company. On March 1785, a surveyor surveyed acreage for Samuel McCleary and two other men and on July 17, 1790 the deed was recorded.
Perhaps John Hamilton McClary liked what he saw of Ohio when he was in the militia. He settled in the Piqua, Ohio area in 1812, just about the time that the Indian problems were settled.
James McClary, who resided on the Ohio McClary farm for 50 years, recalled
the early years. He remembered going to school as a small boy on a path his father cut through the woods. Since money and books were scarce, they placed an alphabet on a paddle and used this for a primer. And, when he was older, one of his chores was to go to the mill. James made this a two day trip. On the first day, he took the sack of wheat by horseback to the mill. As soon as he had the grist, he returned as far as Grandfather Brandon's home where he stayed overnight.35
In 1853, James bought out the land that his brothers and sisters had inherited from their father. He became sole owner of the 126 acres. His sisters and their spouses moved to Darke County, Ohio at this time and his brother John Hannibal McClary moved to Indiana and later to Taney County, Missouri. The land which was ample for a small family no longer supported this extended family. And so, as often happens, some of the family members took their share of inheritance and searched for new, cheaper land.
Birch, Burch Family in Great Britain and America Vol. II by Marilu Burch Smallwood, Burke Company, Georgia.
Carolina Cradle - Settlement of the Northwest Carolina Frontier 1747-1762 by Robert W. Ramsey, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1964.
Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia by Lyman Chalkley, Baltimore Publishing Company, Baltimore, 1965.
Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy Vol. I by William Hinshaw, Baltimore Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, 1969.
A Genealogical Index of Miami County, Ohio,
Genealogy by Anna Morrison Wilson.
A General Index to a Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Service 1840 prepared by the Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Genealogical Publishing Co., Salt Lake City, Utah, 1974.
Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution by John Gwathmey, The Dietz Press, Richmond, Virginia, 1938.
Historical Sketches of North Carolina from 1584-1851 by John Wheeler, Baltimore Regional Publishing Company, Baltimore, 1964.
History of Miami County, Ohio, 1880.
The Kentucky Land Grants by Willard Jillson, Baltimore Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, 1971.
Kentucky Pioneers and Their Descendants by Daughters of Colonial Wars, Kentucky Society, Frankfort, Kentucky.
The Knox Family by Harriet Goodman, Whittet and Shepperson, Richmond, Virginia, 1905.
New World Immigrants by Michael Teppler, Baltimore Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, 1980.
North Carolina Marriages and Deaths 1826-1845 by Carrie Broughton.
Roster of Ohio Soldiers in War of 1812 by Grace Garner, Spokane, Washington
Roster of Soldiers from North Carolina in the American Revolution by Daughters of The American Revolution of North Carolina.
Tennessee Bible Records and Bonds by Jeanette Acklen, Baltimore Genealogical Company, Baltimore, 1980.
Virginia Tax Payers 1782-87 by Augusta Fothergill, Baltimore Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, 1974.
Archibald Bennett, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Eileen P. Christensen, Orangevale, California.
Ethel Dent, Inglewood, California.
Marie Hassell, Locust Grove, Oklahoma.
Claude Pickett, Durham, North Carolina.
Ethel Snapp, Sacramento, California.
Ethel S. Updike, Phoenix, Arizona.
Court Records, Miami County, Ohio, 1851.
Deed Book, Miami County, Ohio, 1853.
Federal Census Records.
Marriage Records, Taney County, Missouri.
Revolutionary War Records of Benjamin Brandon, File W4901, National Archives, Washington, D. C.
Revolutionary War Records of William Brandon, File S3082, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
War of 1812 Military Records of John McClary, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
Will of James Armstrong, Archives Division, Lancaster County Courthouse, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Will of James Brandon, Archives and Records Section, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
Next Article | Table of Contents | Other Issues
Local History Home