July 1, 2012


First Migration ~ North Carolina Frontier

~ Jones Creek, Pee Dee River Settlement ~
1745 – 1749

Elizabeth 1st of England gave a patent to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584 to explore and establish a settlement in North America and he made five attempts to plant a permanent settlement in North Carolina. The longest lasting was at Roanoke Island known as the “Lost Colony”. In 1603, Elizabeth 1st died and James 1st ascended to the throne, but years of war with Spain had left England financially strapped. Resources that were needed for building ships were in short supply. Imports from the Dutch were not sufficient and England’s unstable relationship with the other European countries made trade unpredictable. So, James 1st looked to the New World and granted a proprietary charter to two competing branches of the Virginia Company, a commercial enterprise supported by investors. One was the Plymouth Company and the other was the London Company. The Plymouth Company was permitted to establish a colony of one hundred square miles roughly between Chesapeake Bay up to our northern Canadian border.

The London Company was permitted the same between roughly Long Island Sound and Cape Fear in present-day North Carolina. Neither company was allowed to establish a colony within one hundred miles of the other.

The Plymouth Company sailed for the New World in August 1606, but the ship was intercepted, captured by the Spanish near Florida and never reached its destination. Their next attempt was in May 1607, and that time they sent two ships and about 120 colonists. They arrived in August 1607 and established a settlement known as the Popham Colony in present day Phippsburg, Maine near the Kennebec River. Half the colonists returned to England in the fall of 1607 and the other half stayed through the winter, spring and summer. During that time they built a 30-ton ship they named Virginia and late that summer the colony was abandoned when all the remaining colonists returned to England.

In December 1606, the London Company set sail with three ships and thirty-nine sailors along with 105 men and boys. In May 1606, they arrived at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay where they came ashore, erected a cross and named the point of land Cape Henry for Henry Fredrick, Prince of Wales. In American history, this is known as the “First Landing”. They explored the area for the most favorable defensive location where they built their first fort and in 1607 named the settlement Jamestown. In 1609, the London Company’s charter was adjusted to include the territory that had been abandoned by the Plymouth Company. Thus, America was born with the first colony in Jamestown, Virginia. By 1624, the investors were bankrupt and James 1st revoked the London Company’s charter which made Virginia a crown colony under royal authority.

During this same time period, tensions between the Puritans of the English Separatist Church and the Bishops of the Church of England were becoming fierce. The Puritans believed that the Anglicans had kept too much of the symbolism and ornamentation of the Roman Catholic Church after its separation under Henry VIII. Their attempt to forcibly destroy those symbols by vandalizing the Anglican churches, resulted in many of them fleeing to the Netherlands where they remained for about a decade. But they began to fear they were losing their language, as well as, their cultural identity and made plans to migrate to the New World. Their intended destination was the area near the Hudson River which they believed to be a part of the already established colony in Virginia. After securing financing for their voyage from London and recruiting more settlers, about 100 pilgrims, including many Puritans, set out from Plymouth, England in September 1620 aboard the Mayflower. In November they landed at Cape Cod, Massachusetts and in December 1620 they established a permanent settlement at Plymouth Harbor.

Then in 1625, James 1st died and Charles 1st ascended to the throne. In 1629, he granted to Sir Robert Heath a charter for Carolana with the same goal of establishing a permanent settlement in North Carolina, but the results were unsuccessful. Some years later, in 1653, settlers from Virginia crossed over the border and settled on the Chowan and Roanoke rivers, in a district called Albemarle.

After the Commonwealth period, the English monarchy was restored in 1663 when Charles 2nd returned from exile. He gave the charter for Carolina to eight noblemen … the true and absolute Lords’ Proprietors … who had assisted with his return and the Restoration of the British monarchy.

Now history merges with the attempts to establish a permanent settlement in Carolina that I described in the previous narrative. The original idea was that settlers from Virginia and New England could be enticed to move down the coast into Carolina. Sir William Berkeley had been returned to the crown appointed governorship of Virginia as a reward for his role in bringing Charles 2nd back to the British throne and he was, also, a member of the group of eight noblemen who had been given the Carolina charter. The Lords’ Proprietors who had financial interests in the other American colonies believed that Berkeley could promote migration into Carolina. In 1662, a group from New England explored around the Cape Fear area but left after staying about six months. In 1663, William Hilton was commissioned by a group in Barbados to explore the area, but they could not reach agreement with the Lords’ Proprietors. In 1665, a group from Barbados including Sir John Yeamans, John Vassall and Robert Sandford established Charles Town on the Cape Fear River, but abandoned the settlement in 1667. Finally, in 1670 the Lords’ Proprietors succeeded in establishing a permanent colony at Charleston in present-day South Carolina.

With the only population of the colony of Carolina in the Albemarle area, Sir William Berkeley, the governor of Virginia, appointed William Drummond as the first governor in 1664. Drummond had been born and educated in Scotland. He came to the Virginia colony as an indentured servant, although after arriving he conspired with other indentures to run away. His plan was discovered, for which he received a public flogging and an extension of his indentured time. But by 1650, he had improved his situation, married and had children, became an attorney, merchant, Presbyterian clergyman and a large land owner. By all accounts he was an efficient and effective governor and the Albemarle colony began to grow. Drummond’s term ended in 1667. About ten years later he would become a follower of Nathaniel Bacon and a supporter of Bacon’s Rebellion. After Sir William Berkeley put down the Rebellion, he had Drummond arrested, tried for treason, being found guilty, he was hung to death on the same day.

The next governor of Albemarle appointed in 1667 was Samuel Stephens who pushed for a new law with incentives that would attract settlers. It gave newcomers a one year tax exemption, outlawed any debts they had elsewhere and gave them a five year protection against any law suit brought by anyone for any cause outside of the colony. As you can imagine, like June bugs to a light bulb, they came and soon the Albemarle settlement came to be known in Virginia as “Rogues’ Harbor”.

Over the next forty years the North Carolina colony grew slowly. The barrier islands along the coast and the wetlands were obstacles to the establishment of a deep water port for shipping, so trade was inhibited. The storms and hurricanes that frequented the area did not encourage any great expense in building permanent structures. The Great Dismal Swamp, the fall line rapids and the south running rivers of the Piedmont Plateau were all hindrances to migration from the eastern coastal area into the Piedmont.

In the early 1700’s, the population in the Coastal Plains began to increase; Huguenots from France settled at Bath near Pamlico Sound and Germans from the Rhine founded New Berne at the junction of the Trent and Neuse rivers. The white population was about five thousand and the Albemarle settlement had pushed many miles into the forest which encroached on the natives and brought about the Tuscarora War in 1711. It started when the Tuscaroras and other allied tribes massacred, within two hours, 130 German settlers at New Berne. It ended when Colonels John Barnwell and James Moore from South Carolina destroyed 400 of their warriors at a battle near the Neuse River. The Tuscaroras of North Carolina were descendents of the New York tribe. In 1714, they returned to the land of their ancestors and joined the Iroquois Confederation which was then known as the Five Nations of New York. This transformed the Confederation into the Six Nations.

The Carolina colony was officially split between north and south in 1712 for the purposes of administrative management. The two settlements in Carolina were the Albemarle region in the north and the Charleston region in the south. In 1729 when the last of the Lords’ Proprietors, who by now were the heirs of the original group of eight, finalized the deal that gave up ownership to the Crown, the heir of Sir George Carteret, his great-grandson John Carteret, 2nd Earl Granville, decided he wasn’t interested in selling his inheritance, so he negotiated with the Crown to retain his one-eighth share with his agreement he would not participate in the government. The boundary for his charter was a sixty mile wide strip of land along the North Carolina/Virginia border known as the Granville District. The land was passed down to his son, Robert, who died in 1776. After the Revolution, the Carteret family was compensated for the loss of the land by the new American government.

In the mid-1720s, South Carolinians began to migrate into the Cape Fear River area. It began with small farmers looking for new land as the settlement of the South Carolina coastal area spread north. That was quickly followed by planters who began to accumulate large tracts of land for pine plantations that provided the lumber and naval stores for Britain’s expanding Navy. The South Carolinians also brought their slaves. Eventually, rice plantations developed. But the northern part of Carolina resembled Virginia, used Virginia ports and Virginia money while the southern part with its plantation culture resembled the Low Country of South Carolina. By the 1730s a steady stream of immigrants were beginning to flow into North Carolina. Welsh settlers moved in along the northeast Cape Fear River early in that decade. In 1732, Highland Scots began to move into the Cape Fear backcountry. Cape Fear was navigable by seagoing vessels for over twenty miles upstream. At that point it was necessary to disembark at Brunswick Town and again at Wilmington. But the arriving Highlanders preferred the Wilmington site because it placed them closer to the backcountry. After landing, they transferred their belongings to longboats, canoes, and rafts and made their way up the Cape Fear River. Ninety miles upstream, at the site of present-day Fayetteville, they debarked for the last time and built their homesteads.

For almost eighty years, most of the population of North Carolina was contained in the Coastal Plains area. Then in 1743, the Iroquois sold their remaining claim to the Shenandoah Valley to the Virginia Colony for 200 pounds in gold at the Treaty of Lancaster. This gave rights to colonists to use the Great Warrior’s Trail, also known as Indian Road. It extended the Great Wagon Road, which really at this time was more of a trail, through Shenandoah into the backcountry region of North Carolina along the Alleghany Mountains, eventually passing through Charlotte and on into Camden, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia. This brought not just new immigrants from Europe, but also many of the descendants of colonists in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia in search of new lands. As the established colonies to the north had grown in population, land had become scarce and expensive. The eastern slope of the Alleghanies was rapidly being populated, as was the upper Piedmont area along the Virginia border. The settlements in the Up Country of South Carolina were also experiencing a flood of new immigrants who pushed toward the North Carolina border. The Great Awakening had swept across Europe and had arrived in the American colonies bringing with it, not only a diversity of Protestant religions, but also a new way of thinking about the relationship between Church and State and power over the individual. So there were Lutherans and Reformers, Quakers, Presbyterians, Moravians, Baptist and Anabaptist. As traffic increased, so did commerce which caused towns to spring up along the migration path. However, most of the Piedmont settlers were small farmers who grew corn, wheat and tobacco; raised cattle, hogs; built gristmills, sawmills and tanneries.

The influx of new settlers into the colony drove the creation of new counties as the frontier was pushed westward across the Piedmont. Anson County was the first to be created on the border between North and South Carolina since Bladen had been carved out of New Hanover in 1734, fourteen years earlier. On September 29, 1748, a petition was presented to the North Carolina Governor’s Council proposing its creation and laying out the boundaries, “divided and distinguished from Bladen County by little Peedee River to the head of the main branch thereof and then by a line to be run equal distance from Haw River and Great Peedee River and until another county be erected to the westward or northward of this new county all the inhabitants to the westward of the aforementioned dividing line shall belong and appertain to Anson County.” The petition also gives us an idea of the population density in this vast geographic area as ”between two and three hundred white tithables” and states the nearest courthouse in Bladen was more than ”one hundred miles distant from the nearest inhabitants of Peedee; and that at some seasons of the year, the roads between are very bad, if not impracticable.”
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Some time around the beginning of 1736, Burlingham Rudd would have completed his seven year sentence and been released from his indenture. How those seven years were spent and the impact they had on the remainder of his life will have to be left to our imagination. What we do know is that Burlingham came from, by all indications, a middle-class family. He was literate. He was trained as a butcher. His presumed namesake was rector of St. Andrew Church in Holt, Thomas Burlingham. There’s indication that his maternal grandfather was also clergy. And the details of how he stole the horse off of Poringland Common and was caught trying to sell it, indicate he was not a very experienced criminal. What impact would this experience have had on a twenty-one year old who had come from those circumstances and been sentenced to seven years of indenture to the South Carolina colony? No doubt it was a life changing experience.

The first record that we do find for Burlingham after his transportation to South Carolina is the October 27, 1745 baptism of his three children in the Prince Frederick’s Parish register book. It can tell us some things and raise questions about others.

For example, at the time of baptisms Martha was seven years old, born March 1, 1738, Burlingham Jr. was four years old, born October 13, 1741, and Walter was two years old, born March 20, 1743. Based on Martha’s birth year, it appears Burlingham married soon after his liberty was restored, within about a year. Martha appears to be his first born child, but that name does not appear as a family name in the parish register records back in Norfolk, England, so we have no way of knowing if she was someone’s namesake. He named his second child, Burlingham, which appears to be after himself and the third child, Walter, after his father. This record indicates that the family consisted of two parents and three children in 1745. Noticeably absent from the list of children is George Lounsdell, who has long been speculated to have also been a son of Burlingham and Elizabeth, and there are some possible reasons why he is not listed.

Having all their children baptized on the same day begs the question ... why? And why were the children baptized and not Burlingham and Elizabeth? I can only guess. On one hand, they may have already been baptized as infants by the Anglican Church, that was the tradition. On the other hand, then why wait so long to baptize the children? My guess is that Burlingham and Elizabeth Rudd weren’t necessarily adherents to the Church of England or their children would have already been baptized according to that tradition. I would guess the motivation for the baptisms was the pending migration into the wilderness of the North Carolina frontier and not wanting to expose their children to the dangers that lurked there without first making sure their souls were secure in the afterlife. The baptisms were in 1745 and the land grant in North Carolina was registered in 1749, perhaps George Lounsdell was born during those years or after they had arrived in North Carolina. My guess is Burlingham and Elizabeth left South Carolina shortly after the baptisms, and I think it is a safe assumption that the family migrated to that land on Jones Creek years before the application for the grant was made.

The location of the chapel where the baptisms took place also tells us the general location where they were living at the time. In 1706, the South Carolina Assembly passed the Church Act for the establishment of religious worship according to the Church of England and building Anglican churches. It divided the province into ten parishes, one of which was in Craven County named St. James Santee. As the parish became more populated, in 1721 Prince George, Winyah Parish was established out of St. James Santee. It stretched from the Santee River on the southwest to the Cape Fear River on the northeast; the Atlantic Ocean on the east and as far as was inhabited on the west. As the population spread further inland from the coastal area, Prince Frederick’s Parish was carved out of Prince George in 1734. It encompassed the upper Pee Dee River area to the North Carolina line. The boundary lines of the parishes determined the service area of the church. So those living within the boundaries of Prince Frederick’s would have registered their marriages, baptisms and deaths in that parish’s register. Unfortunately, the parish register for Prince George did not survive to tell us if Burlingham and Elizabeth’s marriage record was recorded in the old parish, but the fact that the baptismal records are in the new parish, indicates they lived within the boundaries of Prince Frederick’s. The historical marker for Prince George and Prince Frederick’s is located at the dividing line between the two parishes near Dunbar, South Carolina on Brown’s Ferry Road. So even though we have no information telling us how and where Burlingham Rudd spent his seven years of indenture, it’s very likely the years following and until the family migrated to Anson Co., North Carolina were spent in this area of South Carolina.

In October 1748, Burlingham registered his land claim for 300 acres on Jones Creek at the land office in Bladen Co., North Carolina. This entry tells us that the family migrated between the baptisms in October 1745 and this entry in October 1748 and it tells us something else. The land allotment system in place at the time was a fifty acre headright for every person moving into the colony. In the baptisms we had three children and two parents, a total of five people. In this entry we have 300 acres which indicates there were six members of the family by October 1748. The sixth person is likely the birth of George Lounsdell.

After Burlingham registered his land claim, he was required to wait six months before a warrant could be issued to the surveyor. This was to insure that no one else had laid claim to the same land. At the end of six months the surveyor laid the boundaries for Burlingham’s 300 acres by marking the trees and listing the identifying landmarks on the warrant. That was followed by the issue of the land patent which laid out the conditions for retaining ownership of the tract. If those conditions weren’t met, the patent would be recalled and Burlingham would lose his claim.

Not only were taxes levied annually per 100 acres, but there was also a requirement that the land was improved and cultivated within a set time frame. The taxes, of course, were intended to generate revenue for the provincial government but the improvement and cultivation requirement was intended to prevent the accumulation and hording of land which did nothing to improve the financial conditions of the colony, and North Carolina was a poor colony. Notice that the patent also requires the owner to notify the auditor within six months so the tax collector was made aware there was revenue to be collected.

The distance from Georgetown in Prince Frederick’s Parish to the Morven area on the North Carolina border, near the location where Burlingham Rudd claimed his land, is approximately 125 miles up the Great Pee Dee River to the border. I would guess that by horseback, it was about a three or four day trip. So, since this wasn’t a long migration, I’d guess that Burlingham had already began the clear a homestead and built a first dwelling before the family moved to Jones Creek and, as I said, the family likely was living on the land for a while before he made the trip to the courthouse in Bladen to register his claim. Remember, the petition that formed Anson out of Bladen said the courthouse was over 100 miles away from the Pee Dee River settlement and the trail was often not passable in certain times of the year. That distance, too by horseback, would be about three days there and three days back under good conditions, about a week that he would be away from his family and they would be subject to the dangers of the forest. Neighbors were far and few between back then, when Anson was new and the Pee Dee River area was being settled.

I can just imagine how beautiful the wilderness was when the first family began their new lives. The views must have been striking with the fall line rapids and waterfalls to the east of the river and the virgin forest and rolling hills of the Piedmont to the north and west. Then there were the beast of the wilderness along with the wildlife and wildflowers. It was a pretty isolated area at the time they moved there but it must have looked like a paradise to Burlingham and Elizabeth and an adventure to the children.

Henry William Elson wrote about all thirteen colonies in his History of the United States of America and he had this to say about North Carolina.

Of all the thirteen colonies, North Carolina was the least commercial, the most provincial, the farthest removed from European influences, and its wild forest life the most unrestrained. Every colony had its frontier, its borderland between civilization and savagery; but North Carolina was composed entirely of frontier. The people were impatient of legal restraints and averse to paying taxes; but their moral and religious standard was not below that of other colonies. Their freedom was the freedom of the Indian, or of the wild animal, not that of the criminal and the outlaw. Here truly was life in the primeval forest, at the core of Nature's heart. There were no cities, scarcely villages. The people were farmers or woodmen; they lived apart, scattered through the wilderness; their highways were the rivers and bays, and their homes were connected by narrow trails winding among the trees. Yet the people were happy in their freedom and contented with their lonely isolation.

Burlingham Rudd was twenty-one years old when he arrived in Charleston, South Carolina and he was about thirty when he completed his indenture. In October 1745 when he baptized his children, he was thirty-seven years old and had three kids who needed a future that would not be found in Charleston. And considering the cultural and societal conditions in Charleston at the time, this move was also the opportunity for a fresh start for himself and Elizabeth as well. We’re actually very fortunate that he didn’t change his name like many others who were sentenced to transportation and then disappear into colonial history. The Rudd family was among the original founders of the Pee Dee River settlement. Members of the family will remain in Anson for at least the next 80 years.

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