Early Trans-Catawba History
In 1717, Adam Sherrills and his 8 sons migrated from
Pennsylvania and settled west of the Catawba River. By July 1749, John
Beatty had also crossed the Catawba. Sherrill’s Ford (A-site underwater)
and Beatty’s Ford (B-underwater) were named for them. Another ford used
by the original settlers was Island Ford (C). During the late 1740’s
Andreas Killen, Robert Leeper, Jacob Forney, Pieter Heyl and John Clark
settled on creeks which today bear their names. An early settler on the
headwaters of Clark’s Creek was Henry Weidner (D-home destroyed). The
site of his home place has changed little since 1750. Remnants of
Beatty’s Ford (E) and Tuckaseege Ford (F) roads, two of the earliest
roads used by these and other early settlers, may still be seen.
During the Revolution, important battles were fought at Ramsour’s Mill
(June 20, 1780) (G-destroyed) and Cowan’s Ford (Feb. 1, 1780)
During the Colonial and Early National periods it was customary to use
privately owned buildings for public purposes. Accordingly, the Tryon
County Jail (I-partially preserved) was located in 1784 at the spring
house of Henry Dellinger, and early settler. Andrew Loretz was the first
minister of the German Reformed Church in western North Carolina. His
brick home (1793) is one of the oldest west of the Catawba River
Open-hearth iron furnaces were established by Peter Forney, Alexander
Brevard, Joseph Graham and others between 1785 and 1800. The home places
of Brevard (Mt. Tirzah) (K-preserved) and Graham (Vesuvius Furnace)
(L-preserved) include sites of two of these furnaces. A third furnace
(M) built by Peter Forney still stands. The “Ore Bank”, a chief source
of iron ore was nearby (N-large pits to be seen).
Graham, a Revolutionary officer and leader of North Carolina troops in
the Creek Indian War (1811-1812): Alexander Brevard, who served under
Washington at the battles of White Plains, Trenton, Brandywine and
Monmouth: and Robert H. Morrison, founder of Davidson College and
father-in-law of Generals D. H. Hill and “Stonewall” Jackson. He is
buried in Machpeiah churchyard. (O-preserved)
One of the outstanding homes of the trans-Catawba region is “Ingleside”
(P-preserved), built by Daniel M. Forney, son of Peter Forney and
grandson of the pioneer Jacob Forney who settled there.
“Mt. Welcome” (Q-destroyed), another iron furnace built by Peter Forney,
is the site of the birthplace of Robert d. Johnston, one of five
Confederate generals born in Lincoln County. The others were Robert f.
Hoke (R-home preserved), Stephen Dodson Ramsour (S-grave preserved),
John H. Forney, and William H. Forney.