My Carson Family

My withrow Family

My earliest known Withrow ancestor is my great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, John Withrow. His wife was Mary, whose surname is unknown. Their son James (1746-1856) served as a Captain during the Revolutionary War. He married Sidney Brandon but they separated due to an incident that occurred during the War, as explained in an article below. James and Sidney had a Mary, who on 2 Feb 1789 married General James C. Carson (1776-1846).

Vol. I, pp. 167-168 (November 10, 1971) of the Forest City [N.C.] THIS WEEK newspaper's series, "Bridges to the Past," a genealogical column by Mrs. Ernest Newton and Roy Brooks, contained the following article:

James Withrow "A Very Worthy Old Gentleman He Is"

This week's column was written by Mr. Kenyon Withrow, family. We appreciate his sharing the results of his research with our readers, and anyone who might have additional information on the Withrow family is invited to share their data with Mr. Kenyon Withrow.


The story of James Withrow, Captain in the Revolutionary War, fighter at Kings Mountain against the British and Tories and on the early Rutherford frontier against the Indians, is a good example of the difficulty encountered by the researcher when the story has already been written and told, based upon too little information, and family tradition. The Withrow story was prepared and distributed in 1915 based upon a Bible record which was not entirely readable even at that time, and upon family hearsay. The portions of the Bible records read were probably correct but there wasn't enough readable to prepare a correct account. Through documentation from all sources available, the facts have been determined. Other facts concerning this Withrow family have been accumulated but are not presented in this account because certain relationships have yet to be proven. Ironically, it is easier to prove a correct story, than to disprove an incorrect and established one.

In his pension application in 1832 for services in the Revolution, James Withrow stated that he was born in 1746 in the State of Virginia. The location of that place in Virginia has not been determined.

The Withrow family belonged to the great wave of Scotch-Irish pioneers that came to America from Ireland early in the 1700's.

After some years spent in southeastern Pennsylvania, many of those people, due partly to the depletion of cheap, rich land, and the weakening of family ties, left Pennsylvania and following the early wilderness routes through the valley of Virginia, with various stopovers, made their way into N.C. looking for cheap land in the fertile creek and river bottomlands of the Carolina frontier. On such a trip, James Withrow was born in Virginia. This future fighter for frontier protection and American Independence, spent his youth in Rowan County, N.C. A list of his friends and neighbors in those days would almost be the same as the list of future associates in frontier Rutherford County. James Withrow married Sidney Brandon, the daughter of George and Marion Brandon in the late 1760's. In his Will in 1772, George Brandon identifies this wife of James Withrow. To James and Sidney Brandon Withrow was born three children. Mary, born in 1770, married John C. Carson in 1789 and is buried at Brittain Presbyterian Church. Mary Ann, born Sept. 9, 1774, married John Loiver [should be Oliver] in 1795 and is buried at the Price Cemetery, near Hollis. John, born in 1777, married Mary (Polly) Etherington in 1798. He later lived in Habersham County, Ga. but returned to Rutherford County and is buried at the Price Cemetery.

In 1765, John Carson, a long-time associate of the Withrows, obtained 520 acres of land on Cane Creek, which included the land along the Creek at the present day farm of Powell Owens III, and the old Thompson farm where Cyrus McRorie now lives. In 1775, Carson sold this acreage to John Withrow, who sold 200 acres at the north end of the tract to James Withrow in 1779. James established his home at the "Cane Creek Settlement" about mile up the creek from John Withrow and James Hughey, and near the Mountain Creek junction with Cane Creek. (This is not the Mountain Creek west of Rutherfordton.) His upstream neighbors were Samuel Andrews and Patrick Watson. In 1783, he obtained a patent from the State for an additional 150 acres along the Creek adjoining his other tract. This latest tract of land in the rich, Cane Creek bottoms was a source of dispute with Samuel Andrews when it was discovered there was a duplication of some of this acreage in a deed Andrews obtained from James Martin [or Marlin]. The courts established a commission to settle the error which was completed in 1798.

James Withrow, after the War, entered into the public affairs of his State and County with zeal and was elected to the House of Commons in 1781, 1784, 1786, 1788, and 1790. He was one of the three Commissioners of Confiscated (Tory) Property. In 1789, he was County Sheriff. Apparently in the early days, the job of Sheriff was more an obligation than an honor, and the low pay and the difficulty of carrying out the tax collecting duties in the developing frontier county made the job not attractive.

The years of the 1790's became crucial and in many ways adverse for the pioneer settlers on Cane Creek. They had been there 20 years. Many of the early leaders were getting older and with several children. The younger men began to look elsewhere for the "green pastures" and more available land in the territory  beyond the mountains. Family ties became weak with the death of [and] ill health of older leaders. The Withrow clan was not without these troubles. To complicate them, were added the unhappy events in the life of Captain James Withrow.

A story reported in Draper's "King Mountain and Its Heroes" may indicate a beginning of the trouble. It reported at the Battle of Kings Mountain "a Tory named Bronson was wounded and fell; and seeing his Whig brother-in-law, Capt. James Withrow of Hampton's men, begged his relation to help him. 'Look to your friends for help' was the response, evidence of the bitterness that existed between Whigs and Tories in those times." Possibly his (James') wife, Sidney, did not appreciate this attitude towards her family members.

In 1790 James was elected again to the House of Commons. When he arrived he was refused his seat "for failure and inability to settle in full for taxes charged to him while Sheriff of the County in 1789". The two sheriffs in 1787 and 1788 were also called on the same type of charges. By 1802, James' trouble on this count had apparently been resolved as he served in the House of Commons in 1802, 1804 and 1805. However, his wife Sidney could have felt seriously offended by the implications. Also, later events possibly indicate that "another woman" could have added to the trouble. Whatever the difficulty, James and Sidney separated early in the 1790's.

In 1794, James purchased 200 acres of land on Hinton Creek at present day Hollis, from Frederick Price. In 1803 he purchased an adjoining 150 acres from a kinsman, John Smith. This farm was to be the ancestral homeplace of all the Rutherford and Cleveland county Withrow's and their kinfolk. Using this farm as a homebase for his farming operations, for the next several years he seems to have been the person consulted concerning land transactions and layman legal matters. He witnessed most of the deeds over a wide area. For some time he was employed by the "Speculation Land Co" and a company report says "he is the person that was employed by the company that first entered the lands to survey them and employed (Timothy) Riggs and Devenport to do the surveying."

In the 1800 Census report, Sidney Withrow was alone on Cane Creek and James was on Hinton Creek with one female in the household. In the 1810 Census, Sidney Withrow was alone on Cane Creek, and James was on Hinton Creek with 2 females in the household. (A daughter, Mary Ann Oliver, had probably joined them upon the death of her husband.) In 1818, Sidney Withrow died. On October 3, 1818 James Withrow married Margaret Etherington.

Selecting from various documents the relationship to various people is determined for Margaret Etherington. She was the mother of Mary Etherington, who had married John, the son of Capt. James Withrow, 20 years before. She was the Aunt of Hannah Webb, the daughter of Rachel Sweezy. She was the sister of Rachel Sweezy, who[se] descendants have been closely associated with the Withrow family for over 200 years in Rutherford and Cleveland counties. The identity of the parents and husbands of Margaret and Rachel have not been determined as yet, except that the mother was Hannah, wife of David Huddleston for 3 years prior to his death in 1786.

James continued to farm with a large group of slaves in the Hinton Creek bottomlands for 20 years after his second marriage. He died there on Dec. 6, 1838. His wife, Margaret, died a year later.

Speculation Land Agent Hyatt made an inspection tour of the Speculation lands in 1825. In his report he writes, "After leaving patent 1025 at the southeast side, we came to the house of old Mr. Withrow, the father of our guide (John Withrow); this man is in his eightieth year and a very worthy old gentleman he is."

The Speculation Lands were vast tracts of land that had not been granted by the State and that were acquired by Tench Cox and later others as The Speculation Land Company.



Last Updated Wednesday, September 06, 2000 07:03 PM