Rich Fischer sent me this information about Surry county from Historical Sketches of North Carolina from 1584 to 1851, compiled from original records, official documents, and traditional statements with biographical sketches of her distinguished statesmen, jurists, lawyers, soldiers, divines, etc., by John Hill Wheeler, late treasurer of the sate, Baltimore: Regional Publishing Co. 1964, Chapter LXXII, p. 408.
"Surry County was formed, in 1770, from Rowan County; which until this date comprehended a large portion of Western North Carolina, from beyond the Yadkin to the Mississippi River. It derives its name from the County of Surry in the south of England. Its name is Saxon, and signifies 'the South River'."
"Surry County is situated in the north-western portion of North Carolina. It is bounded on the north by the Virginia line, east by Stokes County, south by Yadkin, and west by Wilkes and Ashe. Its capital is Rockford, and is distant from Raleigh one hundred and ten miles north-west.... In 1775 Surry was a frontier county. The Mulberry Field Meeting House in the upper end was the only place of meeting. The men generally dressed in hunting shirts, short breeches, leggings and mocassins, and the women in linsey petticoats and bedgowns, and in the summer often without shoes. Some had bonnets made of calico, and others wore men's hats."
"The partriotism of the women of this region deserves a perpetual record. It was their heroic conduct that inspired their husbands and sons in the cause of liberty. They urged the men to leave home, and to prefer to die than be slaves; while they staid at home and worked with their own hands at the plough and with the hoe, by day, to provide sustenance for their families, and at night with the spinning-wheel and loom they made clothing."
Judy Cardwell is doing amazing research to reconstruct the life in Townfork Settlement, where our Hills lived in the 18th century. She has given me permission to use information she is publishing on the web. Her description of Townfork Settlement is at the bottom of this page. I've integrated other information that she has given me into the genealogical information below.
"WHERE IS TOWNFORK SETTLEMENT? Townfork Settlement is located just north of the Wachovia Tract along the Townfork Creek. Townfork Creek begins in Upper Stokes Co., NC and runs down into Forsyth Co., NC, then back into Stokes Co., NC and empties into the Dan River in Stokes Co., NC. The early settlers that were in Townfork Settlement were here prior to the Moravians coming down the Great Wagon Road in 1753 into the Wachovia Tract. The Great Wagon Road ran thru the Townfork Settlement.
1771 Moravian Map of Wachovia showing Townfork Settlement and the Great Wagon Road through Townfork Settlement. In his diary entry of September 1772, Br. George Soelle, Moravian Minister penned his impression that “This neighborhood [Townfork] is to me the darkest of all” after paying a visit to Henry Banner's home near Germanton, NC, and refers to the spiritual condition of the colonial backcountry settlement of Townfork, lying along Townfork Creek. This settlement evolved into the towns of Germanton [1789, county seat of Stokes Co., NC] and Walnut Cove and surrounding area, which lies in northern Forsyth County and southern Stokes County. (This area was part of Rowan County, 1753-1771.)
In 1749, the southern backcountry of piedmont North Carolina was a beautiful, but perilous, wilderness. However, reports of an abundance of land and a temperate climate soon lured immigrants from northern colonies. Hundreds, then thousands of people began to pour into the South. Many settled in the backcountry of North Carolina. They came from Germany, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and other nations. As strangers, from different countries and with a variety of religions, they often related to one another with suspicion and hostility, which sometimes flared into violence. Yet, they somehow learned to tolerate one another, as their very existence depended upon cooperating with neighbors, however gingerly, and reaching out to the larger world.
But overcoming negative perceptions of them by more "civilized" colonists was difficult. Accounts from the colonial period (William Byrd II, Charles Woodmason, etc.) portray many settlers as squatters, wild or rough and shiftless. In their records, the German Moravians, who began to establish an ordered society in 1753 on the Wachovia Tract in Rowan County (modern Forsyth County), frequently referred to Carolinians as "rabble" and "the discarded refuse of Ireland and America." In this context, Br. Soelle's comments about Townfork can be understood. The Moravians sincerely believed that many of their neighbors had little or no religion or discipline.
However, through preliminary research of Townfork Settlement, a different perspective of backcountry settlers is emerging. In mid-November 1753, when a group of Moravians arrived along Townfork Creek, settlers were already living there. Coming down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania to build their first town at Bethabara, the Brethren stopped at a cabin or two (William Haltom and Henry Banner) to purchase food.
This indicates that Townfork had taken root, however tenuous. Using Granville and NC grants, land maps of Townfork Settlement are being created (J. Cardwell). What becomes apparent is the amount of property amassed by various Townfork Settlers, although quite a bit of land speculating occurred in the period being studied. Extensive material extracted from the Moravian records about Townfork describes interaction between the two communities. Quite often, the Moravians turned to Townfork for assistance as Townfork looked to Bethabara for safety from Indian raids and for necessities. The Moravians mention using a Townfork mill, buying livestock and foodstuff and even enslaved persons. Using tax records, deeds, wills, and other documents we find that some Townfork settlers owned a number of enslaved persons. Evidence of farms, mills, tanneries, and craftsmen skills is materializing. Even a Quaker school served the area.
We find that far from being a disorganized, unlawful society, Townfork settlers were bent on forging a civilization in the NC piedmont backcountry. Tensions mounted during the Regulator crisis and the Revolutionary War years, and Townfork citizens were in the thick of conflict. Samuel Waggoner joined other Regulators in boldly defying the abuses of the NC royalist government. Major Joseph Winston fought bravely during the Revolutionary War and after the war served in the North Carolina Senate and U. S. Congress. Colonel Benjamin Forsyth served in the NC General Assembly and during the War of 1812, in leading a charge, took a bullet and died a few minutes later. They are only three examples of many brave men and women in Townfork involved in nation building.
According to an article on Rev. William Hill's son William from The Standard of Raleigh dated November 4, 1857 sent to me by Hill cousin Rich Fischer.
Rev. William Hill removed from Caroline County, Va. was a Baptist minister, a sterling patriot and an honest man. During the war of the Revolution his stirring appeals stimulated the Whigs of his section. He was a chaplain in the American army at the battle of Guilford Court House. His son William was then about eight years old, and he well recollected hearing the roar of the artillery being only four miles distant from the field of battle. He has been heard to relate that a short time prior to this battle, a band of Tories called at this father's house, where he and his mother were, and enquired for his father. On being told that he was not at home they departed, avowing their intention to hang him if they found him. He had incurred their hate by his devotion to the patriot cause. He was a member of the Convention that met a Hillsborough in August 1775, to improvise a system of government for the State. --the maiden name of his wife, the mother of the subject of this memoir, was Eliza Halbert. She was a native of Caroline county, Va."
The book Reminiscences & Memories of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinans by John H. Wheeler describes Rev. William Hill, Jr. as a Baptist Minister, a sterling patriot and a honest man. His break with his families Episcopalian background is said to have temporarily caused his father to disown him. It is said by some sources he was Chaplain and a member of the Committee of Safety, Salisbury District, NC during the Revolutionary War.
The December 1928 issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly Magazine states that Rev. William Hill, Jr., came to NC a few years before his father, and owned land on the Dan River, in today's Rockingham Co., NC. His plantation was called "Popular Hill." The magazine article says Reverend William Hill lived there until his death.
1775 Jul 10 - Surry Co., NC - Salem Diary:
But on July 10th Br. Bagge received a letter from Joseph Williams, formerly Clerk and Lieutenant Colonel of Surry County, containing an Advertisement which was to be publicly posted by order of Samuel Johnson, Moderator of the last convention in Newbern, which called upon inhabitants of the County to appear in Richmond and elect delegates to represent them in the Convention to be held at Hillsborough on Aug. 10th, Br. Bagge and Br. Bonn being especially invited. However, no one went from Salem or Bethabara. Joseph Williams, Robert Lanier, William Hill, the Baptist preacher, Joseph Winston, and Martin Armstrong were elected Delegates. These did their best to draw the Brethren into the game, though they knew their desire to remain quite.
1775 Aug 11 -Surry Co., NC - The Bagge Papers:
To Traugotte Bagge, Jacob Blume & George Houzar[Hauser] Gent.
The present alarming distresses of America have induced the inhabitants of this County to chuse their Delegates And the same distresses have induced us to nominate a Committee to meet and consult for our common peace liberty & safety. - You Gentlemen are nominated and we hope you set in said Committee & Serve the Publick until the good people at large shall chuse others at least two out of every Capt. Company.
Our Bleeding Countrymen demand the utmost attention of every friend to this province and Continent.
NB - The Committee must meet for the first time on the 25th instant.
Signed the Delegates: J. Williams; Ro. Lanier; William Hill; Jo. Winston; Martin Armstrong
1775 Aug 11 - Surry Co., NC - Salem:
Until Aug 11th there was no Committee of Safety in Surry County. On that date Joseph Williams, Robert Lanier, William Hill, Joseph Winston, and Martin Armstrong, all Liberty Men, were elected delegates to the Provincial Congress to be held at Hillsboro, and were appointed a Committee to form a Committee of Safety, which included themselves and several others, of whom only a Mr. Linch is mentioned in the Moravian Records of 1775.
1775 Aug 12 - Surry Co., NC - Salem Diary:
Col. Kanon came through again and told us about the Election held yesterday at Richmond Court-House for 5 Delegates the Congress in Hillsborough; they are Martin Armstrong, Lanier and his brothers-in-law Williams and Winston, and Billy[Rev. William] Hill.
1775 Nov 9 - Surry Co., NC - Bethabara Diary:
Toward evening Mr. Hill and Mr. Grebeineum[Gray Bynum] came to our Tavern, the former a strict Boston man and the latter a Royalist. They spend the evening disputing about present conditions. The latter said, in the presence of Mr. Hill, that we ought not to accept the new money, for it would come to us because we had the trade of the country. Br. Fockel had told him so. The former said that the Moravians said nothing, but were friendly and polite on to both sides, that being to their best interest, that is they held with both parties, however he only said this to Bro. Schaub. He was answered: "If Mr. Hill expresses his opinion concerning the present circumstances it is only said 'Mr. Hill says so and so'; but if one of us said anything at once it was reported 'the Moravians say thus and so'; and so we say nothing about the matter!" Mr. Hill had with him the Journal of of the proceedings of the Provincial Congress, of North Carolina, Held at Hillsborough on the 20th Day of August, 1775, and we borrowed it long enough to read a little. We finally ask his to sell it to us, he would not do this, but agreed to leave it with us for a few days.
1775 Dec 2 - Surry Co., NC - Salem Diary:
Mr. McNally passed on his return from Salisbury, where he had attended a meeting of the Council on Safety, and told us, confidentially, that in a meeting there had been talk to our disadvantage, the occasion being that a few days ago Billy Hall, how was drunk, said that everybody in this section was for the King; William Hill was present and heard it, though at Br. Meyer's request he had agreed to excuse it. We can see that they are planning against us, and Mr. Joseph Williams showed a similarly unfavorable frame of mind when he came this evening, bringing instructions from the Committee that he should take away the lead we secured three months ago; he also said that the Militia would be called out in view of the impending danger, etc.
1775 Dec 5 - Surry Co., NC - Salem Diary:
Yesterday and today many have been here, with differing feelings as to present conditions. Mr. Hill was also here, and seemed much concerned as to what might happen; he has been very active in the matter, and said he would keep out of sight.
1776 Feb 14 - Surry Co., NC - Salem Diary:
Mr. William Hill was here for a short time last night. He brought the report that in Virginia there had been a bloody fight between Gov. Dunmore and the Minute Men, and the latter had lost.
1776 Apr 7 - Surry Co., NC - Bethabara Diary:
Mr. Hill spent the night here, and held morning service for the men.
1777 Jan 19 - Surry Co., NC - Salem Diary:
Br. Fritz preached in the School-House in the English Settlement. He heard that the Baptist preacher, Mr. Hill, had appointed a preaching in the same neighborhood, near John Douthid, and was seeking to ensnare the people.
1777 Dec 5 - Surry Co., NC - From Will of James Charles:
Lastly I do constitue and appoint my son Oliver Charles & William Hill Jr.Executor to this my last will & Testament
1778 Aug 17 - Surry Co., NC - Land Entry #595 - William Hill Jr. enters 200 acres of land in Surry Co. on Ash Camp Creek the waters of Townfork adjoining Thomas Evan's claim and my own deeded land, including the above place from compliment. Warrant granted to C. M.
1778 Aug 17 - Surry Co., NC - Land Entry #596 - William Hill, Jr. enters 150 acres of land on Ash Camp Creek the waters of Townfork adjoining Thomas Heaths and my former including the above place for quantity. Warrant granted C. M.
1780 Oct 19 - Surry Co., NC - Salem Diary:
Several Brethren attended the Thanksgiving sermon which Mr. Hill preached in Bethabara in view of the victory over the Tories.
1780 Oct 29 - Surry Co., NC - Bethabara Diary:
A great crowd of soldiers had gathered, and most of our Brethren; it was estimated that about two thousand were present, to whom Mr. Hill preached earnestly on the 63rd chapter of Isaiah.
It is worthwhile to look at this passage from Isaiah. Here are the first six verses: "Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendour striding forward in the greatness of his strength?"
"It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save."
"Why are your gardments red, like those of one treading the winepress?"
"I have trodden the winepress alone: from the nations no-one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spatters my garments, and I stained all my clothing. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption has come. I looked, but there was no-one to help. I was appalled that no-one gave support; so my own arm worked salvation for me, and my own wrath sustained me. I trampled the nations in my anger; in my wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground."
1780 Oct 29 - Surry Co., NC - Bethania Diary:
Some from here went to Bethabara, where Mr. Hill preached in English to prisoners.
1781 Feb 24 - Surry Co., NC - Salem Diary:
The Baptist minister, [William] Hill, and Capt. Holbert, of the Dan River settlement, came on a visit. The former and Colonel Winston had planned that Mr. Hill and one or two justices should stay here to aid us when passing soldiers made unjust demands on us, but he could not remain, for the small-pox, which was beginning to creep about on Dan River, was breaking out on him. It is quite apparent that the gentlemen do not know what we mean by a Savegarde, but we see their good will towards us, so far as that goes. In the evening there arrived Col. William Sheppard, two of Colonel Cleveland's sons, and another man, who went on the the army next day. Mr. Hill went home, with may expressions of his sympathy for our circumstances.
Numerous legal documents that show William as having died intestate give him four sons John, William, James, and Green, and three daughters Elizabeth, Cynthia, and Frances. After William's death, Elizabeth married John Glenn. Nonetheless, three other children have been attributed to them.
i. THOMAS HILL, born December 22, 1759. He married
KATHERINE SHROPSHIRE on July 17, 1783. A child of THOMAS HILL and
KATHERINE SHROPSHIRE is WINKFIELD HILL.
ii. JAMES HILL, born July 25, 1761, Rockingham Co., NC; died 1834, Claiborne Co., TN. He married NANCY ROYALTY on June 6, 1789 in Surry Co., NC. She was born February 22, 1768 in Albemarle Co., VA, and died after September 8, 1834. I have 10 Children for JAMES HILL and NANCY ROYALTY.
A son Reuben Mason , b. July 23, 1809, kept the family Bible After the death of his parents. It was damaged in a flood on Sacramento River in CA and preserved as well as could be. After Reuben died one of his daughters removed the record portion copying it for preservation of the data.
iii. MARY POLLY HILL, born 1764, Surry or Stokes
Co., NC; and died November 14, 1816 in Lincoln Co., TN. She married
OSBORNE CHILDRESS on January 18, 1805 in Stokes Co., NC. Then she
married THOMAS BLOUNT after 1806. A child of MARY HILL and OSBORNE
CHILDRESS is MINERVA HILL CHILDRESS.
iv. JOHN HILL, born about 1767, Surry Co., NC; died 1830, Wayne Co., TN. Herbert Hill's ancestor.
v. ELIZABETH HILL, born 1768 married JOHN MOORE. I have 11 children for them.
vi. WILLIAM HILL III, b. September 23, 1773, Surry Co., NC; d. October 29, 1857, Raleigh, Wake Co., NC. He married Sarah (Sally) Geddy on April (January?)1, 1803 who died February 14, 1833. He then married FRANCES CONNER BLOUNT after 1833. She was the widow of Joseph Blount. A child of WILLIAM HILL and SARAH GEDDY is WILLIAM G. HILL, b. 1806; d. 1877.
William Hill III came to Raleigh as a clerk to James Glascow, who went out of office in 1798 when William White was elected. On the death of White in Oct. 1811, William became Secretary of State for NC, and served at that post for forty years.
vii. JOAB HILL, born October 5, 1775, Surry Co., NC; d. October 5, 1847, Revere, Clark Co., MO. He married ELIZABETH LANE June 14, 1802 in Claiborne Co., TN, daughter of ISAAC LANE. She was born December 24, 1784 in Probably Washington Co., NC (now TN), and died September 18, 1864 in Revere, Clark Co., MO. I have nine children of JOAB HILL and ELIZABETH LANE.
Elizabeth Lane Hill went to OR with her son Isaac Hill in 1849 and returned to MO in 1856 by boat from San Francisco via Panama. Her son William Hill's second marriage was to his first wife's sister. In 1849 he went to Oregon in the wagon train of brother, Isaac. He gold mined in Yreka, California area, and returned to Missouri with Isaac to visit relatives. He went back to Oregon again in 1852 as head scout for his brother's wagon train. Returned to Missouri for 2nd marriage and apparently remained in the mid-west.
viii. CYNTHIA HILL, b. 1776, Surry Co., NC. She married A. CRAWFORD. I have three children for them.
Daughter Julia married John Hill was educated at the University of NC at Chapel Hill. He was elected seven times to the legislature and once to Congress in 1839. He was opposed to secession, but against his will was elected to the convention that carried the state out of the Union. He said before going that if the state seceded, he did not want to live any longer. He was stricken with apoplexy during the convention and died on April 24, 1861, Raleigh, Wake Co., NC.
ix. FRANCES HILL, b. 1778, Surry Co., NC. , married Major Mark Hardin on January 26, 1796 in Rockingham Co. NC. He was born 1776, and died 1812. I have four children of FRANCES HILL and MARK HARDIN.
Mark Hardin was a Major and Paymaster during the Seminole War (DAR Application # 44735).
x. GREEN HILL, b. 1782, Surry Co., NC, married Nancy Geddy Mitchell, born around 1782 in Surry Co. Children of GREEN HILL and NANCY MITCHELL are: WILLIAM R. HILL, b. 1804; d. 1890; MARTHA HILL, b. 1814, Wake Co., NC; d. 1865, Wake Co., NC.