Rowan County Information On-Line
Dan Michael Patterson
Spencer, NC 28159

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My Family

Abenschon Berrier Boger Braun Bringle Charles (Carl) Cobb Deal (Diehl) Furr Hedrick
Kluttz Lemly Lyerly Michael Patterson Propst Rufty Sink Smith Suther Treece Waggoner

 From old Rowan County, NC to Union County, IL.


In the late fall of 1816 my thoughts were not on working at my father’s mill.  My Pa owns and runs a grist mill on Persimmon Branch just upstream from Crane Creek. That’s where I live but all the rumors are about the beautiful land next to the mighty Mississippi River.  Several wagon trains left last week heading that way.  Many of my friends have already gone and I just can’t stand it any longer.  I think I am going to tell my Pa in the morning that I will be on the next wagon train.  By the way my Pa is Abraham Brown. 

            Well it has been a week since I told Pa I was leaving and he has had a sad heart but I can see an excitement in him thinking about the adventures just ahead of me.  He remembers vividly his trip from his homeland in Germany; the tough time he and his brothers had coming over the ocean.  I am a bit excited myself and I also have a kind’a  fear deep inside me.  I hear it takes about two months to make our way there.

 Yesterday Pa came to me and gave me this big gourd. He said I could carry my seeds in it.  When I get to Union County, Illinois territory I will have to start my farm with seeds from here in Rowan County.  Several groups from St. John’s Church left a few weeks ago and the rest of us want to get there as soon as we can.  We have letters that tell us where to stop each night and where to find good water and provisions while on the way.

            Well it is now spring of 1818 and since my arrival in Jonesboro I was able to purchase two tracts of land (about 80 acres) in the Mill Creek area.   Mr. Lyerle and Mr. Kohler each purchased 40 acres just down the road.  I’ll let my 3rd. great grand nephew Danny finish telling my story.

            Ever since reading the Abraham/Jacob Brown book written by John Fisher of Salisbury, I have been interested in my family’s history.  My 3rd. great grandmother was a Brown and this is about where the story begins.

My wife and I made a week long trip to Union County a few months ago to do some genealogy research.

We spent days walking through old cemeteries and church yards throughout Union & Alexander Counties.  We were also fortunate to find a headstone with “born in Rowan County, North Carolina” inscribed.

Towns with names like Thebes, Dongola, Anna, Jonesboro and Mill Creek were on our mind.  These were the home villages of hundreds of old Rowan and Cabarrus Countians in the early 1800s.  Hundreds of our cousins still live there.  Names like Brown, Lingle, Lyerla, Lemly, Eddleman, Dillow, Hartline, Cruse, Treece, Miller, Hileman, Lentz, Rinehart, Corezine & Fisher are evident in most of the cemeteries there.  It was like walking through the Salisbury and Concord phone book.  We visited the library in Anna and the Deeds office in Jonesboro many times and scanned through many of the old records.  In the oldest deed book in Jonesboro, we found the fourth entry was none other than our Abraham Brown and his purchase of property dated 1818.  We also found the location of his nearly 200 year old farm and a Brown family is still living on the farm.  Low and behold the owner of this farm is an Abraham Brown descendant.  We met and had a great time.  While I was there I viewed and held in my own two hands the original deed for the land signed by President Buchanan.  I saw with my own two eyes Abraham’s signature.  What a thrill!

Legend tells about Abraham Brown from old Rowan County, NC who arrived in Union County, Illinois with a large gourd full of seeds and somehow or other the gourd has endured the test of time (since 1814) and is located in the Cobden Museum in Cobden, Illinois.  After several days researching and sight-seeing, we decided to travel to Cobden and see the old museum.  The owner allowed me to hold the old Rowan County gourd in my two hands.

This was another great thrill of my life.  This old gourd was probably raised in the river bottoms of the Yadkin River and carried nearly a thousand miles to the river bottoms of the Mississippi River nearly 200 years ago.  The museum owner told me I was the first family member of Abraham Brown to inquire about the gourd since he put it on display in 1961.

It is amazing to me that our forefathers could pack up everything they owned in a couple of wagons and say goodbye to their parents knowing they would probably never see them again and head westward to parts unknown and survive.  Their trip was made in a sturdy wagon like the one in the Rowan Museum and probably took them two or three months to make the 800 mile trip.  Abraham Brown’s uncle, Jacob the Wagonmaker, settled in Telford, Tennessee and practiced blacksmithing till his death.  I am sure he repaired many of these wagons.

We loaded up our 20,000 pound fifth wheel RV and Dodge truck and it took us a day and a half to get there and after a week of fun, a day and a half back and we were worn out.  Think of our ancestors who did not have a comfortable safe place to lay down their weary heads but did it anyway.

            Men and women from both Rowan and Cabarrus counties were some of the first settlers in the region of southern Illinois.  Indians still inhabited the area and it was not a friendly place.  The Jacob Lingle family in 1807 and Henry Cruse, John Fink, George Brown and Abraham Brown, Jacob Dillow, John Fisher, Joseph and Adam Eddleman in 1816.  “The early Union County settlers were deeply religious and were mostly of the Lutheran faith. Some had come to this new land because of being opposed to slavery. They were attracted to Union County because the hilly land resembled their Native North Carolina, and because of the water supply in the springs and streams, even enough in places for their water mills.”   This statement was taken from a website about St. John’s Lutheran Church in Dongola, ILL.  (  After seeing the area myself I can attest to the truth of that statement.  The area does indeed resemble the land in Rowan and Cabarrus Counties.

St. John’s Church in Dongola was the first Lutheran church in the Illinois territory and most assuredly named after their home church in Cabarrus County.  For more info on Rowan and Cabarrus families, please visit .

One final thought that has intrigued me, this article was not about the rights or wrongs of slavery.   Imagine these men that settled this new area of the country in just a few years would be raising children that would be of the age to be drafted into the Union Army.  Wouldn’t it have been ironic for them to have been on the opposite side of their North Carolina brothers in battle and maybe captured and moved to the notorious civil war prison at Salisbury?


Dan Patterson

Rowan County, NC

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