The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 11:31 am Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Thomas Hartley, Patriot

By Linda H. Barnette

Another Revolutionary War patriot in my family was my 4th great-grandfather, Thomas Hartley, born in 1762 in Maryland and died in 1842 in Davidson County. His grave is the oldest one in my family group at Sandy Creek Cemetery in Tyro.

He is mentioned for several years in the Rowan County Census. He was married twice, and it was from his first marriage to Milly Burgess that my relationship came, specifically from his son John. In the NC Deed books for Rowan County there are several listings for property bought by Thomas and his brothers, Richard, Laban, and Benjamin.

On 1810 Thomas purchased two tracts of land, “200 A adj Widow Goss and 231/2 A on Sandy Creek near tract.”  Interestingly enough, he paid Mack Crump $675 for that property, which placed him in the area where my ancestors lived on Horseshoe Neck Road. And the Crump land appears in his will and in my great-great grandfather, Hiram H. Hartley’s will, meaning that it stayed in that family for a long time. The Census of 1820 shows him living at “Battalions 2 and 4 on the Lexington side”

Thomas also received land grant #2073 issued in 1792 for 144 acres on the waters of Woods Creek in Tennessee as a reward/payment for whatever services he rendered to the patriot cause during the Revolutionary War. Not all patriots fought in the actual war, but many showed their support by giving them goods for which they were rewarded with land as the government had little money but lots of property. Thomas is also listed in the 1937 book listing patriots during the war. Sharing a copy of the land grant and his pension here. Note to remember: most of the land bounties were issued before the current boundaries of Tennessee and North Carolina were drawn.

What Lives On

By Stephanie Williams Dean

My favorite travel experiences are those I carve out of a busy schedule and set aside to enjoy life a little. From day trips to more extended vacations, my best travel experiences include hobbies such as painting or writing. I also enjoy educational travel – where you research before you go and then locate historical sites or visit museums.

On a recent excursion, I sequestered for a week at a delightful compost for writers, located in the small community of Flat Creek – just a tiny dot on the map and smack dab center in the picturesque, rolling hills of Middle Tennessee. The writers’ colony in College Grove had once been operated as a luxury bed and breakfast inn – so the place claimed a big history. Hospitable, gracious innkeepers, friendly, smiling travelers, and an abundance of delicious food characterized the inn that operated for almost a decade.

The history of this country inn began before the Civil War. Sometime between the years 1853 and 1857 the original farmhouse had been built. While the home was invaded by Yankee raiding parties, it was spared from being burned down because the builder was a Northern sympathizer. Afterward, before becoming a bed and breakfast inn, the farmhouse had enjoyed six generations of folks who identified the quaint place as home.

While gently rocking in a white, wooden rocker on the front porch, from the hill, my eyes swept over lush, green pastures, imagining a day when a horse-drawn buggy might have rolled along that dirt country road. I could picture hard-working slaves hand-building rock fences on the 1000-acre working farm – a scene that grounded the land in historical significance.

The home was converted to a luxury country inn after being purchased in 1992 by a couple who began renovations the next year. The front three rooms of the house and the quaint front porch were left intact while the hand-hewed, red cedar beams remained and were left exposed as well as two large rock fireplaces. In addition to the original farmhouse, other old, historical structures had been renovated and repurposed – another plus. Then in 1993, rooms were added to the farmhouse along with a huge gourmet kitchen. Cooking with the most modern of amenities, innkeepers prepared delectable, mouthwatering meals for guests – no one would have left their table hungry.

What remains of those wonderful days lives on in the memories of folks who traveled there – and the inn’s cookbook that attests to innkeepers’ favorite breakfasts, delicious lunches, and candlelight dinners once enjoyed around a dining table. That alone is enough to stir the imagination. So, for me, and all the writers who travel there, now – we can only imagine these days gone by.

So, thank you, Lord.  I long for more places and moments, where and when, I can imagine.

Step Back in Time

By  E. Bishop

“Tobacco barns once numbered a half million and were fixtures on farms across the state.  Today, only about 50,000 still stand, vestiges of the tobacco industry, deteriorating reminders of the leave’s influence on our culture.” (August 2013, Our State magazine article by Susan Stafford Kelly.)  These curing barns were an essential part in the process of air-curing tobacco and were most often built in or near the tobacco fields from a variety of hardwood trees such as oak, elm or hickory.  They were built tall and narrow with the tobacco being strung up to the rafters for drying. Three centuries of history are slowly fading away with the disappearance of these structures.

However, one local family has saved two of these structures from demolition. Jeff and Nicole Ferrell were gifted one of the barns from good friends who had originally purchased it at auction on a farm on Feezer Road in Davie County. These friends had moved it to High Rock Lake with the intention of restoring it but never did. So, with the help of friends and his three sons, Griffin, Parker and Van, Jeff numbered, disassembled, and recreated the barn on its current foundation back in Davie County. The other tobacco barn came later from a farm on John Crotts Road; quite a few logs had to be discarded near the foundation and built up from there on this barn.  It has been preserved as a small stand-alone barn.

     Jeff said it is a great feeling to know that a piece of history is being preserved with these two barns although the first one mentioned has had a much larger transformation.  After the two or three days of numbering the 105 logs and reconstructing the building on its foundation, a roof, front and back porches were added and chinking between the logs had to be completed.  At least six large buckets of chinking material were used. Jeff stated it’s been an interesting adventure.  He has also hunted down old relics, such as plows, utilized on a farm to use as decorations. This labor of love took approximately seventeen months to complete.

     The Little Log Roost is a step back in time when things were a little simpler, when food was raised and processed at home, when entertainment was spending time together with neighbors and loved ones, just watching the sun set or sitting by a fire. The Ferrell’s enjoy spending time outdoors at their 1910 tobacco barn turned cabin where there is a flat-top cooker, charcoal grill, huge fire pit and modern outhouse with all the amenities needed.  It is also available for family BBQ’s, weekend getaways, children’s birthday parties or a simple romantic retreat. (Airbnb link

     As tobacco barns are reminders of our past, let us also remember the hard work, camaraderie, and fellowship of harvesting in the bygone era.  Indeed, step back in time with friends and enjoy some laughter and love.