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The Yadkin River

 

Historic Sites and Places of Interest Found

In

Yadkin County, North Carolina

 

Formation of Yadkin County - At one time Yadkin County was part of Anson County.  When Rowan County was formed, the present-day Yadkin County was a part of it.  In 1770, with the formation of Surry County, Yadkin was part of  Surry.  The present Yadkin County, North Carolina, was created by an act of the North Carolina Legislature in 1850 out of that portion of Surry County that lay south of the Yadkin River.  Yadkin County is situated in the Piedmont Section of North Carolina, just east of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  To the northwest is Pilot Mountain, now a state park, and the Saurtown Mountains.  The county is bordered on the north by the Yadkin River and Surry County, on the east by the river and Forsyth County, on the west by Wilkes County, and on the south by Davie and Iredell counties.

 

Towns and Communities - Yadkin County retains its rural atmosphere even in its towns and communities.  The towns are: Boonville, East Bend, Jonesville, and Yadkinville.  There are many small communities populated by residents who commute to Winston-Salem daily to work.   Without railroads and large industry, the county still has many acres of untouched forest, sparkling streams, and fertile farms.  Here, in Yadkin County, the old exists side-by-side with the new. It is almost an island of quiet beauty in the modern industrial world.

 

 

 Parks and Sites of Natural Beauty

 

(click on underlined words for links to more information)

 

The Yadkin RiverThis ancient river begins in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Blowing Rock.  The river flows east then turns southward along the eastern portion of Yadkin County.  It continues south to become known as the Pee Dee River in South Carolina.  The river empties in the Atlantic Ocean. For an account of Rev. Douglas Rights’ voyage down the Yadkin River from its origins to the Atlantic Ocean, see: A Voyage Down the Yadkin-Great Peedee River - 1928

 

The Shallow Ford - The famous Shallow Ford of the Yadkin River lies about ¼ mile south of the bridge that spans the river near Huntsville.  Because it was shallow, this crossing was used for centuries by various Indians.  It was one of the places where countless pioneers could cross the river as they traveled down the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia to settle in the Yadkin River Valley.  The Shallow Ford was used by Morgan Bryan, Squire Boone, and his famous son, Daniel.   Nearby several skirmishes were fought during the American Revolution in 1780.  The British general, Lord Cornwallis, crossed here in his pursuit of American General Nathanael Greene. Shortly thereafter, those two forces clashed at Guilford Courthouse.   During the War Between the States (the American Civil War), detachments of General George Stoneman’s  Union cavalry crossed here several times in the spring of 1865, shortly before the war ended.  The local Home Guard could do little to stop these Federal troops from raiding plantations and burning the Red Store in the Huntsville area before the moved. The Union soldiers planned to liberate prisoners held at Salisbury in the Confederate prison, but by the time they arrived, the prisoners had already been transferred elsewhere.

 

Bean Shoals - Northeast of East Bend is a very shallow area of the Yadkin River which runs over bed rock. Just across the river, a canal was begun in the 1850s to facilitate commerce on the river, but the project was abandoned due to financial problems.  This was in the era before dynamite had been invented. 

 

            A nearby tourist attraction is Horne Creek Living Historic Farm.  

 

The Brushy Mountains – A low chain of mountains that spans 5 North Carolina Counties begins in the western part of Yadkin County, which is actually part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The “Brushies” are known for the many apple orchargs.  For more information see:  Brushy Mountains.

 

Shore-Styers Mill ParkLocated 4 miles east of Yadkinville between Old Highway 421 and Shacktown Road, the park features walking trails and a view of the waterfall on North Deep Creek.  For more information see: Shore-Styers Mill Park

 

The fall on North Deep Creek at the Shore-Styers Mill Park.

 

 

Richmond Hill Nature ParkThis park surrounds the home of Judge R. M. Pearson (“Richmond Hill”). Also included are two picnic shelters,  hiking trails filled with a variety of trees and plants in this wilderness area adjacent to the Yadkin River. 

 

Yadkin County Park - Just east of Yadkinville, and easily accessible from New Highway 421, the park has picnic tables, fishing lakes, hiking trails, The Ted Williams amphitheater, and areas for athletic competition.  Near the entrance is an outdoor swimming pool.   The Yadkin Family YMCA (membership required), located at the park entrance,  has an indoor heated poor, indoor basketball court, and various exercise equipment. 

 

Historic Sites

(*= site or building is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings/Sites)

 

*“Richmond Hill -  Home of North Carolina Chief Justice Richmond Mumford Pearson, and where he conducted his lawschool from the mid 1850s for over 20 years until his death.   It is near the Yadkin River and across from Rockford, once the county seat of Surry County.  Pearson’s students lived in little log cabins or boarded at neighboring homes.  Some stayed at homes in Rockford, and rowed across the river to attend Pearson’s lectures.  He reported taught law to 1,000 young men.

      Guided tours of this beautifully restored home are given the 3rd Sunday in each month, or by reservation. Picnic shelters may also be reserved.  Call (336) 699-3921 or (336) 367-3200 to make reservations.

 

Richmond Hill,” was built by Richmond Mumford Pearson, Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court.  Pearson was noted for his writs of habeas corpus which he issued to obtain the release of men arrested for draft-dodging during the Civil War.  He also presided at the impeachment trial of Governor William W. Holden, during the Reconstruction period.                                                                        

 

 

 

      Chief Justice Richmond M. Pearson

 

 

 

Rockford (in Surry County) - A few miles away from the Pearson home is the little village of Rockford.  Places of interest are the Rockford County Store, and several craft shops open weekdays and weekends (except Tuesday). This is an historic old town well worth seeing.  Andrew Jackson once stayed at the hotel there before he became famous as “Old Hickory” or as President of the United States.

 

Butner MillThe machinery in this towering old mill has been restored and the owner grinds a small amount of corn each year.  Nearby is the miller’s house with ornate decorative trim.  The mill is located on Butner Mill Road, which turns off Highway 67, and is open only by appointment.  Contact the owner, John Pruett, (336) 699-2252.

 

The Butner Mill, located on Butner Mill Road near East Bend

 

Continue south on  Butner Mill Road to what was once the town of Shore.  Although no town exists there now, it was incorporated by the Shore family in order to continue running their distilleries after some of the prohibition laws were passed.  Earnie Shore, a famous baseball pitcher who played with the Boston Red Sox was born there.  He was later Sheriff of Forsyth County and the ball park there was named after him.

 

Yadkin County Vineyards - Yadkin County is once again becoming noted for its fine wines grown in vineyards through the county. The Nathan Craft Vineyard near Flint Hill won the prize for the best wine at the Paris Exposition over a century ago in 1889. 

 

The modern vineyards and wineries include: RagApple Lassie Vineyards 3724 Rag Apple Lassie Lane, Boonville, (336) 367-600;  Flint Hill Vineyards 2133 Flint Hill Road, East Bend (336) 699-4455;  Hanover Park Vineyard,  1927 Courtney-Huntsville Road, Yadkinville (336) 463-2875; Laurel Gray Vineyards 5726 Old U. S. Hwy. 421, Hamptonville (336) 468-8463; and Buck Shoals Vineyard (336)468-9274.

 

 For more information, see individual websites or contact Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce.

Tours of the Yadkin County vineyards can be scheduled at Yadkin Wine Tours  For tours of not only Yadkin but surrounding counties in the Yadkin Valley area are available as well.  Contact Yadkin Valley Wine Trail

 

Shallowford Popcorn Farms – This family owned business grows, harvests asnd produces p[opcorn. The gift shop features a variety of popcorn flavors ideal for special gifts.  Web site =   Shallowford Popcorn Farms.  Telephone 1-800-892-5938 or (336) 463-5938.  Open Monday thru Friday.  While here, a trip through the ancient town of Huntsville is recommended.

 

Huntsville The oldest community in the county was begun shortly after 1750 with the arrival of Abraham Creson, Isaac Feree, and George Forbush who settled near the Shallow Ford.  Just a few miles to the south in what is now Davie County was the Bryan Settlement,  where some of the Morgan Bryan and Squire Boone families lived.  Creson opened at store near the road that came up the hill from the Shallow Ford.  He was also involved in the Regulators War, was arrested, but released. At his death, some of his property was sold to Charles Hunt.  Hunt had it surveyed and laid out in half-acre lots for a town to be named after him, Huntsville.  The town prospered and was the center of commerce until Yadkin County was formed and Yadkinville was designated the county seat.  Only a few of the grand houses in the Huntsville area survive. 

 The “White” House, built between 1795-1801,  has been restored and is on the National Register.  It may be seen by appointment only.

 

United States Congressman and later Confederate Brigadier General Thomas Lanier Clingman grew up in this house. 

 

 

 

 

 

Good  country food can be found at the nearby Battle Branch Restaurant in the center of what was once the town of Huntsville.

 

Mulberry Fields Road - Other places of interest in the Huntsville area are the Big Poplar Tree, site of a skirmish between Tories and Patriots on October 14, 1780.  Remnants of the old Mulberry Fields Road can be seen near the huge tree.   One Patriot, Captain Henry Francis is buried there. Recently, descendants of Captain Francis placed a new and corrected tombstone at his grave.  Since that time, the nearby creek has been called Battle Branch.

 

      A few feet away on the north side of the Mulberry Fields Road 14 Tories are believed to have been buried.  In the spring of 1781, British General Lord Cornwallis traveled this same road in his pursuit of America General Nathanael Greene.  Greene had crossed at the Trading Ford, but because of spring rains, Cornwallis had to move up the west bank of the Yadkin River to cross at the Shallow Ford. Fortunately, this gave Greene time to reach Virginia and raise more troops. 

 

Cornwallis and his British troops passed by the Big Poplar Tree.  Local tradition holds that Cornwallis either shot the top of the tree or, or that the tree was small, and his horse nibble out the topmost branches. A more likely story is that the tree (over 250 years old) was struck by lightening.

 

      At the intersection of High Street and the Mulberry Fields Road, in 1913,  the Daughters of the American Revolution placed a marker to commemorate the Daniel Boone Trail.  Boone settled in nearby Davie County in the 1750s, and for the next 25 or 30 years, he roamed the Yadkin Valley in search of game.  Boone later blazed the Wilderness Road and established Fort Boonesborough in Kentucky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Bend

     Davis Brothers’s Store - This old building, 105 E. Main Street, East Bend, was once a general merchandise store.  It  was featured in the award-winning motion picture, Two Brothers, produced by the Winston-Salem School of the Arts  in 2003.

 

The building is on the National Register of Historic Buildings, and has recently been reopened as a restaurant, Kitchen Roselli. For more information concerning business hours, call (336) 699-4898.

 

Nearby are other Victorian-style homes.

 

East Bend was once the site of the Huff Buggy Factory (1873-1920), which was once the largest buggy factory in the South.  East Bend was also the site of the Morse & Wade Tobacco Sack Co.  The work on the little bags or pouches, which were later filled with smoking tobacco, was done by local women.  Some of the work was farmed out to women and children in their homes.  This was one of the few occupations open to women in the early1900s.  The Yadkin Valley Hotel building in which some of the work was done was recently demolished.

 

East Bend is famous for its God & Country celebration, which is held annually  the Saturday before the 4th of July. Featured is a huge parade, music, crafts, and a day of entertainment at the local school.

 

Yadkinville, The County Seat – The town of Yadkinville, first called Wilson, was created to serve as the county seat after Yadkin was formed from Surry.  Located at the intersection of Highways 601 and 421, the town continues to serve as the governmental center.  For visitors, accommodations are available at several motels and a bed and breakfast.  The numerous restaurants offer a variety of foods from fast-food restaurants, to Italian and Mexican cuisine, to seafood and country cooking.   Each year, Yadkinville hosts a celebration on the Fourth of July. In mid September, the annual Harvest Festival is held with music, arts and crafts, and family-type entertainment. The Christmas Parade is takes place in early December.

 

About three miles north of Yadkinville is the site of the Bond School House. A shootout occurred there in February  of 1863 between the militia, led by Captain James West, and 16 men inside the school house, who were either deserters or draft-dodgers.  When the shooting stopped, four men were dead, including Captain West. Several others wounded. The “conscripts,” led by Jesse Dobbins, fled across the mountains and some of the joined the Union Army.  Although those inside the school were indicted,  after the war, when Jesse Dobbins returned to Yadkinville he brought Federal troops with him who demanded that county officials drop any charges against Dobbins and the others involved.  For more information on this and other events in Yadkin County during the Civil War, see The Civil War and Yadkin County, North Carolina, by Frances H. Casstevens.

 

Hamptonville – The town of Hamptonville was established in 1806 on 50 acres set aside for the town by Henry Hampton. Members of the Hampton family came from England in the 1600s and some of the descendants reached national prominence (i.e., Confederate General Wade Hampton).   The original Hampton house still stands on what was once a stage road from Salem to Wilkesboro.

 

Another famous resident was Alfred “Teen” Blackburn. Blackburn had been a slave who went with his master, Augustus Blackburn,  to fight in the War Between the States at Manassas.  Alfred served as a cook, bodyguard, and helper. For his service, he drew a pension from the state of North Carolina Later, Alfred learned to read, and began carrying the mail in the 1880s between Jonesville and Hamptonville.  He carried the mail on foot, then with the aid of a horse and buggy.  Alfred was one of the few who lived to tell about Stoneman’s Cavalry riding through Hamptonville. Alfred Blackburn became the last Confederate soldier in the state when he died in 1951 when he was almost 110 years old. 

 

 Flat Rock Baptist Church near Hamptonville has continued as a church since the late 1700s.  Many members of outstanding families are buried in the cemetery, including Henry Hampton, the first sheriff of Yadkin County and founder of the town;  Colonel John A. Hampton, Captain James West (killed at the Bond School House); Captain Robert Duvall, who was involved in the first naval battle between Confederate and Union ships; and  Josiah Cowles, early businessman from Connecticut, and members of his family.   There are at least 25 Confederate veterans buried here.

 

Jonesville – This town had its origins in the iron ore mining that began the 1700s.  Several mine tunnels were recently located under the streets of the town.  Just across the river from Elkin in Surry County, Jonesville (originally Martinsborough) was established in by in 1811.  It soon grew to prominence because of the Jonesville Male and Female Academy, which drew students from across the South.  The school was ransacked in the spring of 1865 by soldiers from Union General George Stoneman’s cavalry. 

 

In 1871, the covered bridge that connected Jonesville and Elkin across the Yadkin River was paid for by charging a toll.  It stood until 1913.  The new steel bridge that replaced lasted only three years, and was one of many swept away by the Flood of 1916.

 

 Today, with Interstate 77 passing nearby, Jonesville has developed into a stopover for area tourist.  With several fine hotels and motels, restaurants, Jonesville is a convenient base for those tourists and travelers who want to tour vineyards, the mountains, and other area attractions.