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Friday, July 22, 2011

What Did Alexander West I Find When He Came to Wilkes County?

He found Indians and danger!

Tradition indicates that many hard-fought battles occurred between the white settlers and the Indians among the swamps along the Yadkin River.  The Cherokee Indians were quite numerous and had their capital village at what is known today as North Wilkesboro.  They had numerous wigwams along the banks of the Yadkin and Reddies Rivers.
He found an unpopulated back country!
Supposedly, by 1727, no white men had been in what is now Wilkes County.  In 1746 Governor Rowan wrote that “in the year of 1746, I was in the territory from the Saxaphaw [Haw River] to the mountains, and there was not above one hundred fighting men in all that back country.”   By 1749 according to the tax polls, about 300 taxable men lived west of North Carolina’s Haw River.  By 1750, many settlers, most of whom were English, began coming to western North Carolina.  As mentioned in a previous blog post, “Migration Routes and Their Effects on Settlements,” settlers came for various reasons—religious, political, and economic.  Politically, they came for a desire for greater freedom than they had under British rule in other parts of the colony.  Living in such a remote section as western North Carolina provided them with greater autonomy.
He found a source of plenty!
By 1750, the North Carolina “back county” was becoming more populated.  As they entered this western North Carolina land, settlers found that many bottom lands had already been cleared by the Indians.  In the upper Yadkin River Valley, they found land teaming with bear, deer, and other animals.  Supposedly, a hunter could obtain two or three thousand pounds of bear grease in a season.  Daniel Boone purportedly killed 99 bears along the waters of Bear Creek.  A hunter could kill four or five deer a day.
He found an abundance land available through land grants and purchases!
By 1752 Lord Granville, who did not sell his land back to the King of England as some of the English proprietors had done, provided land grants for 8,773 acres of land lying within the present borders of Wilkes County.
Barclay, Carolyn R. “Just Who Were the Scots-Irish,”, Aug. 14, 2010
Crouch, John. Historical Sketches of Wilkes County, 1902

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