History of Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte (1740 – 1903) – Daniel Augustus Tompkins
This volume is one of the best county histories which have appeared in the South. It does not confine itself to genealogical and patriotic matters; but it very properly goes into the field of industrial and social history. This piece of good sense is, no doubt, the result of the author’s long identification with the business interests of his county. He was known far and wide as a successful manufacturer, and, as a writer on topics connected with the cotton industry, he has done much good work. He has drawn from the “North Carolina Colonial Records” for his account of the early settlement of Mecklenburg; he has wrought into his book much of the revolutionary history of the period. In regard to the long-disputed matter of the “Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence” he has been content to tell the story simply in support of the “Declaration.” He has not gone into the features of the controversy, but lets the reader judge from the documents given in the second part of this book to substantiate the theory. It is fortunate that this is so, for Mecklenburg county, aside from its disputed “Declaration,” has had a history full of romantic interest. No other county in the State has surpassed it in its firm adherence to liberty and democracy.
History of Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte (1740 – 1903).
Excerpt from the first chapter:
October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on one of the Bahama Islands named by him San Salvador. He never touched the mainland of North America, though on his third voyage he visited the coast of South America. In 1499. Americus Vespucius, a bold and intelligent navigator, published a map of the coast of North America, and wrote vivid descriptions of the lands he visited, so that his contemporaries named the continent America, in his honor. In 1497, an Englishman, John Cabot, discovered the continent of North America, and hence England assumed the right of exclusive possession on account of prior discovery. In 1498, John Cabot and his son, Sebastian, explored the whole coastline from Labrador to the mouth of Chesapeake Bay.
The Spaniards were the first settlers of the new land — along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, in what is now Mexico. In 1535, Jacques Cartier, a Frenchman, sailed up the St. Lawrence as far as Montreal, and planted a fort on the heights of Quebec in 1541. In 1562, and the years following, the French Huguenots made a settlement in Florida, but were destroyed by the Spaniards, who had established St. Augustine in 1565. from which the French were unable to drive them. The French planted more settlements in what is now Nova Scotia — then called Acadia, and all the way up the St. Lawrence, at the beginning of the Seventeenth century. From the year 1600. France and England were the only real rivals for the colonization of North America. The resistance of the Dutch in the Netherlands and the destruction of the Spanish Armada broke the power of Spain.
In 1578, the English fitted out an expedition to settle Labrador. But the hundred settlers were afraid to be left alone on that bleak coast, and the colony returned without accomplishing anything. In 1583, Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Walter Raleigh, as representatives of England, went through the form of claiming Newfoundland, whose valuable fisheries were already supplying Europe with fish, a hundred and fifty vessels from France and forty from England being engaged in that trade. In 1584, Raleigh sent out two ships to take a more southerly course from England, and they came to Roanoke Island, North Carolina. The whole country then between the parallels of 33 degrees and 45 degrees north latitude was named by Raleigh, Virginia, in honor of England’s virgin queen, Elizabeth. The first colony on Roanoke Island was of men only, and it failed. The idea was exploration rather than colonization. The second colony, on the same island, contained women and men, and here, April 18, 1687, the first white child born in America, Virginia Dare, first saw the light. The colony was left in good condition with promises of succor from England. But when the ships came, the colonists had all disappeared. The Indians of Roanoke Island had been described by one of these colonists to be “most gentle, loving and faithful, and such as live after the manner of the golden age.” The disappearance of the colony has remained a mystery, though it is claimed that the whites intermarried with the Indians, and that the Croatan Indians of Robeson county are the descendants of the mixed race. This is the only answer that has ever been given to the question, “What became of the lost colony?”
In April, 1607, the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States, was made at Jamestown, in Virginia. The Spaniards had been upon the very spot eighty years before, but they had given up, and the English remained permanently. After Jamestown came Henrico, Hampton, New Bermuda, and other settlements in Virginia. In 1619, a Virginia Assembly met. In that year also a Dutch vessel brought the first negro slaves, twenty of them, to America. The Puritans landed on Plymouth Rock the next year, in 1620, making a permanent colony there. Between them and the Virginia Colony the Dutch had established themselves in the New Netherlands. As early as 1610, they built a fort on the Hudson at Albany, and had put up a few log huts on Manhattan Island, which they called New Amsterdam. Captain Argall was sent from Virginia to subdue New Amsterdam and did so, but so soon as he went back the Dutch threw off the English yoke. In 1651 they conquered a Swedish colony and became the rivals of the Puritans in trade with the Indians. The Dutch extended their settlements from Connecticut to the Delaware. In 1664, they gave up their town. New Amsterdam, to Colonel Nicholas, acting for the Duke of York, and both New Netherlands and New Amsterdam changed their names to New York.
In 1633, .the Colony of Maryland, with its liberal charter, was founded by Lord Baltimore, and it was settled from Virginia, from the New Netherlands and by the Catholic immigrants from England. Delaware had been first settled by the Swedes, who had acknowledged the authority of the Dutch. The Swedes had also been the first settlers of Pennsylvania. In 1681, Charles the Second granted a charter for the whole country to William Penn, the Quaker, and named it Pennsylvania. The same year a party from Germany settled in what is now known as Germantown. The Quakers, who were persecuted in England, came over in great numbers. Other Germans followed and colonized Western Pennsylvania. From about this time began the immigration of the Scotch-Irish, from Ulster county, Ireland, in scattering bands, into New England, in larger numbers into New York and New Jersey, and by the thousand into Pennsylvania, settling Philadelphia and then going beyond the German settlements still farther west.
In 1670, a few emigrants from England settled at Port Royal, South Carolina, moving the next year to the western bank of the Ashley river and again to Oyster Point, at the junction of the Ashley and Cooper rivers where, in 1680, the foundations of Charleston were laid. They were reinforced in 1673 by an immigration of Dutch from New York, seeking new homes after the English conquest of the New Netherlands. In 1686 there was a large immigration of the Huguenots who fled from religious persecution in France. After long controversies between the English and these Dutch and French dissenters, the latter were admitted to all the rights and privileges of the former. The South Carolina Colony was constantly .threatened by the Spaniards to the south of them. Later in history, Georgetown became an important point. The Scotch-Irish also made Charleston a port of entry. A large Swiss settlement was made near the coast, but was so much reduced by the too great change in climate from their native mountains that the survivors moved westward toward the up country.
“The Carolinas” is the name given by the French who explored them in 1563, in honor of Charles the Ninth. The first permanent settlements in North Carolina were made from Virginia and by English immigrants, along the Chowan river, adjacent to Virginia. Some of these lands, although lying in North Carolina, were deeded by Governor Berkeley, of Virginia, as the boundary line of 36 degrees and 30 minutes was not determined until 1728. The first settlements of importance were made in 1653. All along the border of eastern and middle North Carolina, the Virginia settlers poured over the line. The land grants in this colony were more desirable and the taxes and levies less than in Virginia. But for sixty years the population was mostly confined to the territory north of Albemarle Sound, which gave its name to Albemarle county, one of the two divisions of. the colony. A colony from the Barbados settled at the mouth of the Cape Fear in 1665, but in 1690 the last of these settlers left and moved south to Charleston. This colony was called the county of Clarendon. In 1663 the counties of Clarendon and Albemarle were united under the government of Lords Proprietors. There was an open revolt in Albemarle until the people were persuaded that their liberties would be preserved. This was in 1669, when there met an Assembly composed of the Governor and his Council and twelve delegates elected by the people. In 1709 and 1710, several thousand Swiss and German immigrants from the Palatinate settled at New Bern, which was named for the Swiss city. Baron De Grafrenreid was their leader. There was a dreadful massacre by the Indians in 1712, in which many of these and other settlers lost their lives. So the progress of the colony was slow. In 1717. the taxable inhabitants numbered only 2,000, and in 1729 the number had grown to 13,000. Then the tide of immigration began to pour in all at once, and on account of late settlement, the foreign population was greater in North Carolina, and the immigration from the other colonies as compared with English immigration was also larger. The population of 20,000, including the negro slaves, in 1730, had grown to 393,000 by 1790. This growth was largely by immigration from the other colonies.
The first known land grant was made in 1633 to a Quaker named Durant, at the mouth of the Little and Perquimans rivers, which became the nucleus for a large Quaker settlement — a refuge for those who were persecuted in both Virginia and New England. Other dissenters, from Nansemond county, Virginia, one colony being composed of sixty-seven persons, settled in the territory just over the line.
After Bacon’s Rebellion, especially, “fugitives from arbitrary tribunals, non-conformists, and friends of popular liberty, fled to Carolina as their common subterfuge and lurking place.” In 1672. there was organized resistance against England for the oppressive laws, taxing tobacco a penny a pound and requiring its shipment to England for taxation before it could be sent elsewhere. The people arrested the Deputy Governor and Council and elected a Governor of their own, an Englishman named Culpepper. Says Bancroft of this incident: “Are there any who doubt man’s capacity for self-government — let them study the history of North Carolina. Its inhabitants were restless and turbulent in their imperfect submission to a government imposed on them from abroad; the administration of the colony was firm, humane and tranquil when they were left to take care of themselves. The uneducated population of that day formed conclusions as just as those which a century later pervaded the country.”
The main settlers in Eastern Carolina were English from Virginia, and as the country was settled along the coast they gradually moved westward. Henry McCulloh settled a colony of Scotch-Irish direct from Ireland in Duplin county in 1736. From the year 1740 a stream of Scotch-Irish and German immigrants from Pennsylvania and the Valley of Virginia poured southward along the whole of the Piedmont section. In 1746 occurred in Scotland the Battle of Culloden, in which the Scotch Highlanders, who were still loyal to the House of Stuart, were defeated. In the following year and for years afterward colonies of these Highlanders came to Wilmington and then up the Cape Fear, settling what are now Bladen, Sampson, Cumberland, Harnett, Moore, Robeson, Richmond and Scotland counties. In 1750, the Moravians purchased 100,000 acres of land from Lord Granville, in Surry County. In the meantime there began an immigration over the southern line of the colony from Charleston and Georgetown as ports of entry, and from the several nationalities that, had already settled South Carolina. This northward movement from South Carolina and the migration westward from the settled portions of the eastern counties, and the movement southward from Pennsylvania and Virginia, met and mingled in the southern Piedmont region now occupied by Mecklenburg and adjacent counties.