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The Norman Urquhart Family of Alabama

Presented by Minta Urquhart Forester

June 2001

On the shores of Loch Ness, just outside Inverness, Scotland stands the ruins of an old feudal castle. In recent years this castle has become a familiar sight to many seeking the Loch Ness monster. However in the 1600 this castle was the home of the Urquhart family whose influences spread throughout the glen bearing its name Glen Urquhart. (This name remains in use today). With the castle in ruins the family established homes throughout the British Empire. They were merchants, farmers, teachers and professional people that reflected the pride of the Scottish Highlands from whence they came. Most notable of the family was Sir Thomas Urquhart who translated the Works of Rabelais in 1653.

Family tradition has it that in 1774, three Urquhart brothers sailed from "North" Britain to the Cape Fear region of the North Carolina colony near the current city of Wilmington. These brothers were named Henry, Norman and Alexander. Henry is presumed to be the elder since he later provided the gravestone for his younger brother Alex and coined the phrase "North " Britain. At the time of their arrival, Henry’s age is unknown, Norman was about 24 years old and Alexander was 8 years old. Verbal history in the family states that they were on a ship with the McLeods and the Bethunes, possibly the same vessel that brought Flora McDonald to the Carolina shores. They arrived just prior to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.

Like hundreds of others they were trying to escape British domination. However to obtain safe passage they had to sign a loyalty oath to the crown. This oath prohibited the bearing of arms against the crown. History goes on to reveal that the loyalist Scots moved on to join with others of like sympathies in Nova Scotia or fought with the British troops. Those that wished to remain neutral went upriver away from the influences of the coastal area and settled in an area already established by other Scottish immigrants. Here they hoped to establish their homes and farm the land much as they had done in the old country. They obtained land in the Buie’s Creek area near Cross Creek (now Fayetteville, N.C.). Norman and his wife Janet Beaton/Bethune attended Old Bluff Church in Wade, North Carolina. Several of their children were baptized there. The grist mill that Norman built is now on the campus of Campbell University.

But peace was short-lived…Although the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, it was soon followed by the rumblings of another disagreement with Britain.

In the War of 1812, Henry and Norman were both mustered for the "Home Guard" of Cumberland County, North Carolina. Alexander had died in 1792 and was buried in St. James Episcopal Church Cemetery in Wilmington, North Carolina. Henry was involved as a merchant in Wilmington; Norman was the farmer. It is assumed that he shipped goods from the crops down river for his brother to market and therefore could supply his family with essential goods that they did not grow. The 1800 census shows Norman and two of his adult sons in Cumberland County but Henry was enumerated in New Hanover County (Wilmington, N. C.).

By now Norman and Janet had 10 children:

1. M Child: John Urquhart
Birth: 1774 Place: N. C. (Between 1774 & 1780)
Death: 1844
Burial: Place: Urquhart Cemetery, Pine Level, Montgomery Co., AL

Spouse: ? Nealy
Marriage: Place: Samson Co., N. C.

Spouse: Margurete McCall
Marriage: 20 Mar 1832 Place: Montgomery Co., AL

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2. M Child: Neil (Neale) Urquhart
Birth: 1780 Place: Near Wade, Cumberland Co., N. C.
Death: About 1844 Place: Barbour Co., AL

Spouse: Elizabeth "Polly" Smith
Marriage: 12 Apr 1814 Place: Jasper (Randolph) Co., Ga.

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3. M Child: Alexander A. (Alex) Urquhart
Birth: 27 Apr 1783 Place: Cumberland Co., North Carolina
Death: 17 Apr 1843 Place: Montgomery, Co., AL.
Burial: Place: Urquhart Cemetery, Pine Level, Montgomery Co., Ala.

Spouse: Elizabeth Smith
Marriage: 16 May 1809 Place: Randolph (Now Jasper) Co., GA

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4. F Child: Nancy Urquhart
Birth: About 1784
Death: Before 10 Aug 1864

Spouse: ? McLeod

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5. F Child: Florince (Flora) Urquhart
Birth: 25 Jan 1786
Death: Before 1859

Spouse: Neal Shaw

Spouse: Jonathan Motes (Moates)
Marriage: 8 Feb 1826 Place: Montgomery, AL.

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6. F Child: Catherine Urquhart
Birth: 1790 Place: Cumberland Co., N. C.
Death: After 1850

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7. F Child: Elizabeth Urquhart
Birth: About 1792 Place: Cumberland Co., N. C.
Death: Before 1860

Spouse: John Shaw
Marriage: 19 Apr 1817 Place: Cumberland Co., N. C.

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8. F Child: Margaret (Peggy) Urquhart
Birth: About 1792 Place: Cumberland Co., N. C.
Death: After 10 Aug 1864

Spouse: John Joyce
Marriage: 8 Apr 1841 Place: Montgomery Co., AL.

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9. M Child: Norman, Jr. (II) Urquhart
Birth: 2 Nov 1794 Place: Cumberland Co., N. C.
Death: Before 9 Jul 1859 Place: Montgomery, Montgomery Co., AL.
Occupation: Farming

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10. M Child: Daniel Urquhart
Birth: 4 Jan 1797 Place: Cumberland Co., N. C.
Death: 1864

Spouse: Agnes Shaver
Marriage: 17 Apr 1821 Place: Montgomery Co., AL.

The area of North Carolina was getting crowded as peace and prosperity settled on the United States.

In Georgia the Indians had been pacified and land was available. People were encouraged to settle this land and forge new territories. Norman and Janet joined the multitudes that formed wagon trains, rode horseback or walked to the "New Frontier"; settling in Jasper Co., GA. in about 1814. Most of their children either went with them or preceded them by settling in Jasper and Washington Counties, GA. Nancy Urquhart McLeod is thought to have remained behind in North Carolina with her 4 children

Children:

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1. F Child: Jannett McLeod

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2. M Child: Norman McLeod

Birth: Place: North Carolina

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3. M Child: Christian McLeod

Birth: Place: North Carolina

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4. M Child: Daniel McLeod

Birth: Place: North Carolina

 

In November 1819 Norman and his son Alexander purchased public lands from the government in the Alabama territory. This time they moved to the area which is now near Pine Level, Montgomery County, Alabama. Norman and Janet settled in their last home off the current Woodley Road just prior to Alabama statehood, which occurred on December 14, 1819. On this date Alabama became the 22nd State in the Union.

The home site was near a clear creek. Fruit and nut trees were planted, land was cleared and fields were tilled. A permanent home was established. Artifacts found many years later reveal the homes were built in a large circle with an open area in the center. (Story told to author by Mrs. Woods whose family has lived on the property for several generations.) Each child, spouse and children had the opportunity to settle there. Just as it was in Glen Urquhart, Scotland the children soon wanted to spread out and obtain their own properties.

The BLM reveals 40 land grants to the Urquhart children over the years 1821 to 1906, the first being 79.75 acres located in Montgomery County by John Urquhart, and the last was a 175.44 acres homestead located in Covington County by William O. Urquhart. By the third generation the Urquhart family was spread from Troy in Pike County to Ramer in western Montgomery County. Norman’s grandchildren were teachers, ministers, judges, landed gentry and merchants. Each had substantial land holdings near the original family holdings. The current US 231 bisects property owned by John Urquhart in south Montgomery Co. and north Pike Co. The current Woodley Road is flanked by "Urquhart" property in south Montgomery Co.

It is unknown just what other families settled Pine Level with the original family but names linked through marriage are McCall, McLeod, Barnett, Allen, Shaw, Moates, Beaton/Bethune, Jackson, Williams and Shaver.

Within the last five years, thanks to the historical writings of Miriam Urquhart Rogers, the Urquhart Cemetery on Norman’s original homestead has been found. In October 2000 a group of 22 Urquhart descendants and "cousins" joined in an attempt to reclaim the site from the woods and thus clean and restore the graves. The last known internment on this site was approximately 1844. The possible number of graves range from 30-50. This restoration is an ongoing project. We welcome any one to join us in this endeavor.

Further history and a detailed family tree can be obtained by visiting the web site of another Urquhart descendant, Bill Wilson.

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~brwilson/urquhart/

He has researched the family for many years and has served as a collecting point for family information which is posted on his site. Anyone with any further family links is encouraged to contact Bill Wilson, Ted Urquhart or me.

 


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