north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

This large rectangular marker, with map inset, was researched and erected concurrent with the construction in the early 1960s of the Cowan’s Ford dam and the creation of Lake Norman. The extended text reads as follows:

     In 1747 Adam Sherrill and his 8 sons migrated from Pennsylvania and settled west of the Catawba River. By July, 1749, John Beatty had also crossed the Catawba. Sherrill’s Ford (site underwater) and Beatty’s Ford (underwater) were named for them. Another ford used by the original settlers was Island Ford. During the late 1740’s Andreas Killen, Robert Leeper, Jacob Forney, Pieter Heyl, and John Clark settled on creeks which today bear their names. An early settler on the headwaters of Clark’s Creek was Henry Weidner (home destroyed). The site of his homeplace has changed little since 1750. Remnants of Beatty’s Ford and Tuckaseege roads, two of the earliest roads used by these and other early settlers, may still be seen.

     During the Revolution important battles were fought at Ramsour’s Mill (June 20, 1780) (destroyed) and Cowan’s Ford (Feb. 1, 1781) (preserved).

     During the Colonial and Early National periods it was customary to use privately-owned buildings for public purposes. Accordingly, the Tryon County Jail (partially preserved) was located in 1784 at the springhouse of Henry Dellinger, an early settler. Andrew Loretz was the first minister of the German Reformed Church in western North Carolina. His brick home (1793) is one of the oldest west of the Catawba River (preserved).

     Open-hearth furnaces were established by Peter Forney Alexander Brevard, Joseph Graham, and others between 1785 and 1800. The homeplaces of Brevard (Mt. Tirzah) (preserved) and Graham (Vesuvius Furnace) (preserved) include sites of two of these furnaces. A third furnace, built by Peter Forney, still stands. The “Ore Bank,” a chief source of iron ore, was nearby (large pits to be seen).

     Graham, a Revolutionary officer and leader of North Carolina troops in the Creek Indian War (1811-12); Alexander Brevard, who served under Washington at the battles of White Plains, Trenton, Brandywine, and Monmouth; and Robert H. Morrison, founder of Davidson College and father-in-law of generals D. H. Hill and “Stonewall” Jackson lie buried in Machpelah churchyard (preserved).

     One of the outstanding homes of the trans-Catawba region is “Ingleside” (preserved), built by Daniel M. Forney, son of Peter Forney and grandson of the pioneer Jacob Forney who settled there.

     “Mt. Welcome” (destroyed), another iron furnace built by Peter Forney, is the site of the birthplace of Robert D. Johnston, one of five Confederate generals born in Lincoln County. The others were Robert F. Hoke (home preserved), Stephen Dodson Ramseur (grave preserved), John H. Forney, and William H. Forney.

     For early history of the area east of the Catawba see marker located on N.C. 150—500 yds. east of Catawba River, Iredell County.

C. L. Hunter, Sketches of Western North Carolina, Historical and Biographical (1970)
Ruth Little-Stokes, An Inventory of Historic Architecture, Iredell County, North Carolina (1978)
Robert W. Ramsey, Carolina Cradle: Settlement of the Northwest Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762 (1964)
The Heritage of Iredell County (1980)
Fuquay Springs Independent, October 11, 1962
Lincoln Times, June 19, 1961
Gastonia Gazette, January 16, 1963.
William L. Sherrill, Annals of Lincoln County (1998)
Marvin A. Brown, Our Enduring Past : A Survey of 235 Years of Life and Architecture in Lincoln County, North Carolina (c. 1986)
Lincoln County Heritage (1997)

Location: County:

Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources