Early Settlers of Surry County
Source: The Heritage of Surry County, North Carolina,
Surry County was settled largely by second generation Americans who were born in Virginia. Some came before the Revolution looking for land; some came to receive land in payment for services in the Revolution; some were simply land speculators; and some passed through and stayed only long enough to grow food to take them to another place.
But by 1790, Surry had been shorn of all her boundaries except on the south. And when the smoke of the Revolution and the dust of the departing had cleared, there were the families whose descendants are here two hundred and ten years later. These families were prolific and healty. Some left, but some remained to carry the name and hold the land. And while the land has gone out of some families, descendants still live in the area where their progenitor first settled.
A large number of the permanent settlers were middle-aged, substantial men who wished to create a civilized community with churches and schools. They were responsible men who attended court, helped to build roads and paid their taxes.
Settlers traveled to Surry in an orderly fashion by wagon-train with a wagon master who knew the territory. Plans were made beforehand. Knowledge of available lands came through advertising and scouting.
They traveled in groups of extended family, neighbors or in groups that had a common religous bond. They followed the same pattern in settlement and in marriage. They married where they were. And if they did not migrate, they were given their portion of land adjoining the family. This pattern is still true of farm families today.
In the Westfield-Tom's Creek section of Surry were the Quaker families who came from New Garden and other meetings in Guilford County. They had come to Guilford from Pennsylvania and Virginia. John Hiatt had come directly to Rowan with Morgan Bryan. In addition to the Hiatt family were the Jessop, Jackson, Hill, Bond, Simmons, Horton, Stanley, Burcham, Pinson, Love, Taylor and others. These were stable, substantial men who prospered on the land. Most of these families and their increase migrated to Indiana, but all have descendants in the area.
Another example of a travel group was Matthew Creed and his brother Bennett who came to Surry about 1770. They brought adult and teenage children with them. Also included were Matthew's wife's family, the McKinneys, Richard Lawrence with seventeen children, Edward Moore and Rodham Moore (who settled in Patrick but whose son Gabriel settled in Surry and married into the Lawrence family).
It is believed that the Gordon family came with them as well as the Herring and Dudley families. This group settled in the area south of Mt. Airy on the Turner's Mountain and the Red Brush section; others who came with them were the Roberts, Robertson and the very wealthy McCraw families. Descendants are here today through hundreds settled in the west.
It is known that Franklin, Taliaferro, Perkins, Oglesbys, Easley, Fleming, Cave and other families settled in the Haystack area in the western part of the county at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They came from Albemarle County, Virginia. Also from Albemarle were the Frost Snow family and the Thomas Burrus family. Snow and Burrus had married into the Hale family.
The Tucker family, the wealthiest of the lot, also settled in Haystack. Tucker had a large number of slaves and descendants of the slave families carrying the name Tucker are highly respected members of that community 200 years later. The Ramey, Lowe and Galyean families came from Virginia, and were neighbors of Franklin.
It is known that the Riggs family accompanied by the ........ Michell River. Samuel Riggs, the progenitor of the Riggs family, was the grandson of Edward Riggs III of English descent whose family came to Massachusetts in the 1630s. The family moved to New Jersey where Edward III was one of the founders of Morristown. There is a statue there commemorating this fact.
Riggs came to Surry with a large family and died in 1798. Ezekiel Wilmoth settled in Surry and his brother Thomas settled in adjoining Wilkes. The Wilmoth family is still near where old Ezekiel first settled. The Riggs family moved over to the Old Fisher River Church section. The Henson family has descendants near their first settlement.
The families who were listed in Rowan in the 1750 and 1760s tax listings were Samuel Freemen, Thomas, Jonathan and Mark Whitticor. Descendants were in Surry in the 1771 tax listing.
Some of these from eastern Carolina were the Sheppard and Marion families. Bartholmew Marion probably has more descendants in Surry than any other man, except Frost Snow. Marion came with his father John Marion in 1766 and settled in the Siloam area.
Some of the German families settled first near the Moravian colony and eventually moved over into Surry. Some of these were Hauser, Moser, Shouse, Kiger and Brinkley.
The early settlers of French Huguenot descent were Poindexter, Laffoon, Lambert, Laurence and Hardin. They came by way of Endland and Virginia. Other travel groups from Virginia were the Stone, Lovill, Stow, Denny, Fulk, Key, Faulkner, Dunnegan, Cook, Smith, Jones and Needham families.
About 1840 several families moved to Surry to fill the void left by the departing Quaker and other families. Vincent Simpson, born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, lived for a while in Stokes before coming to Surry. His descendants join the Marion and Snow families as being the most numerous. The Marth Atkins family, also numerous, appears to have come from Pittsylvania County.
These families came and they stayed. Though many no longer farm, they live on land of - or nearby that of - their progenitor.
History and Formation of Surry County
This page was last updated October 10, 2010.
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