The Rocky River Love Family
By James Adam Love
It should hardly be inferred that he [James Love] was a licensed preacher, but was probably an exhorter, class leader or local preacher belonging to old Mt. Moriah Methodist Church that stood near his home. Mt. Moriah was one of the early Methodist churches in this section of N.C. and in 1815, was with fifteen other churches including Charlotte, on the Sugaw Creek circuit of the S. C. conference. Old Mt. Moriah was long ago merged with Asbury Church, and a new church built in a grove centrally between the two, and, therefore, called Center Grove Church . . .
The site of old Grandsire Jimmie’s old home is still pointed out and less than 100 yards away is the old Love graveyard enclosed with a rough wall of piled field stone picked up from the surrounding land by the late Mr. Jesse Cox, late owner of the property, so as to make the land more tillable. Here old Grandsire Jimmie is probably buried, though no stone bears his name. All the gravestones are rough unmarked slate slabs except in the case of “old Aunt Easter” and Uncle George Tucker who have appropriate marble stones placed by Rev. Tucker, uncle George’s son . . .
James Adam Love wrote his Love family history at a time when old landmarks were still in existence. And not yet forgotten, family tradition carried greater weight. Adam likely walked the cemetery that he believed to be located near the Love family home place. He also knew that it was located near old Mount Moriah Methodist Church on lands once owned by Jesse D. Cox. Providing a starting point for those seeking verification of James Adam Love’s writings, the following conveyances identify both Jesse’s land and the church to be within the boundaries of Cabarrus County:
Deed (28-195, Cabarrus County NC) 3 May 1849, filed 1 Feb 1878. William A. Burkhead to Jesse D.Cox. Being 152 ¾ acres on the east side of Rocky River adjoining Andrew Hartsell’s old corner, John Reid’s corner, the “Flat Branch,” Martin Randleman’s corner, and “a corner of the church lot then with a line or lines of the church lot.” Jonathan M. Randleman and Andrew Hartsell witnessed the transaction. Filed in 1878, Thomas J. Shinn testified as to the authenticity of the witness signatures. The clerk of court notesd that in 1878, “William A. Burkhead has long since left the state and is dead.” And he noted “Andrew Hartsell is also dead.”
Deed (27-273, Cabarrus County NC) 9 Oct 1869, filed 3 Nov 1876. Thomas J. Shinn, Martin Widenhouse, and A. H. Smith; a committee appointed by the Third Quarterly Conference held for the Mount Pleasant Circuit of the Methodist Church of the South Carolina Conference to Jesse D. Cox. Being two acres “all of that tract or parcel of land known as the Mount Moriah Church ground” lying on the east side of Rocky River adjoining Barba’s line and Jesse D. Cox lands. F. A. Klutts witnessed the transaction.
The Concord Telephone Company published a magazine entitled PROGRESS. Edited by Clarence E. Horton Jr. and Kathryn L. Bridges, a compilation of historical sketches taken from the magazine provides us another glimpse into the life of Old Mont Moriah. Dated September 1984, a few lines from an article entitled A FLAME OF FIRE reads as follows:
So Mount Moriah was located on the east side of Rocky River near Flat Branch. But there has been confusion over just where the cemetery was actually located. Several older citizens told me that both the church and Love Family cemetery was gone as the site had been bulldozed to make for more tillable farmland. And just as they had been told by others, these same folks believed the church to be once located south of Hwy. 24-27 on the west side of Pine Bluff Road adjacent to the train track crossing. But that site is situated in Stanly County while the deeds clearly identify the church as lying in Cabarrus County. And just as I began to believe there must be a mistake, I received photographs of the cemetery that my deceased first cousin Linda Love Krauter had taken back in the late 1970’s. From the photos, it was easy to see that the landscape at the cemetery was not the same as the site on Pine Bluff Road. There was a mistake.
Mt. Moriah, which apparently began when Rev. James Love deeded land for its constrution in 1813, survived along with its slightly older sister congregation, Asbury Church, until 1867 when they merged into Center Grove Methodist Church.
Tracing forward the lands owned by Jesse D. Cox, it became clear that the tract in question adjoined Reed’s Gold Mine Property at a point near Flat Branch. Conrad Reed found gold near this locale in 1799 on a small piece of land entered by his father John Reed in 1797. It has been said that John was ignorant of gold and used the specimen as a doorstop for three years. But much to the contrary, John quietly entered two adjacent tracts in late 1799 and 1800 for which one survey was made for the combined 330 acres. So John likely sat on his find until in December 1800 he had money to pay for the land. The survey plat of the 330 acres identified James Little as owner of lands to the south. And to the west, James Love owned land along two lines and Flat Branch. From a land grant entered 1804, we know that James Love did in fact acquire 91 acres on Flat Branch. Platting the lands, James Love’s land nests perfectly into position adjoining John Reed’s land along the branch. Fitting together the surveys of early holdings surrounding Reed’s Gold Mine; and by tracing these forward, we know that Jesse D. Cox’s land adjoined John Reed’s 330 acres on this same boundary line identified in 1800 as belonging to James Love.
Reed Mine Road runs north crossing Little Meadow Creek and then bends west before turning sharply north. Here it intersects with Hartsell Road before running the river ridge northward passing by the entrance to the state historic site. And where Reed Mine Road makes this most sharp bend to the north, the two acres known as Old Mount Moriah Church land was situated a hundred yards to the southwest on present day Hartsell Road. I met with Helen Tucker Obermier and we decided to walk the lands.
We met a man who knew of the old church and pointed next door to where he had always been told it had once stood. We asked him about the graveyard and he said “sure, I have walked that all my life.” Across the road, looking down the slope towards the river, he pointed to a grove of trees in the middle of a field. “That’s where it is, there are plenty of old stones there, and it is a nice sized cemetery.” The view matched perfectly the photos made years ago by my cousin Linda. The man told us we needed to talk to the lady across the street. “She owns the land and could tell you much more about it.” Following the man’s direction, the land owner provided us with what stories had been passed on to her concerning the church and cemetery. She had been told Mount Moriah had burned and that the congregation decided not to rebuild. She told us of others who had made this pilgrimage and of her desire that the cemetery be cleaned and cared for. A man farming her land had been caring for the cemetery, but she indicated there was need for more. She asked if we would like to see the cemetery and offered to drive us the short distance down the dirt road that passed through the back of her farm. Leaving her behind, we approached the grove on foot. You could see the surrounding stone wall that James Adam Love had credited to being made by Jesse D. Cox. Incredible. This was an image I had read and heard of all my life. Serving as an entrance, on the east and uphill side, the wall was broken by two slate pillars. The slates have holes in them and iron fittings indicating the existence of a once proper gate. Entering the hallowed ground, we realized immediately that there were more graves than we had imagined. The graveyard is the size of a medium sized ranch style house with maybe 30-50 markers. Looking through the shade towards the far end, the white marble stones of the graves of George and Esther Tucker stood out among the rest of the simple hand made slate makers.
Knowing James Adam Love had not found any other marked stones, and also that there were no notes of such find in the papers given to me by the family of my deceased cousin Linda, Helen and I fanned out in the cemetery hoping against odds that we would find something not yet recorded. We had nearly reached the end of the graveyard when I heard Helen exclaiming…. Look ….Look! Look! There before us was writing on a leaning stone no bigger than 18 inches high. Grubbing away the roots and leaves, I stretched out on the ground to study the writing. Written on the stone was:
As the sun began to set, we left the site knowing a real find had been made. And yet there still remained questions. This cemetery is just below where Mount Moriah once stood. Was this the Love family cemetery or should we identify it as the Mount Moriah cemetery? James Adam Love mentioned James Love’s house was situated within 100 yards from the cemetery. I wonder where in the surrounding field that it once stood? And was there once a cemetery near the train track on Pine Bluff Road? . . .and if so, who could have been buried there?
Terra Server provides searchable online satelite images. One image provides a look at the land where we believe Mount Moriah Methodist Church once stood. You will see Reed Mine Road making its hard bend to the north along the upper right hand border of the image. Hartsell Road dead ends into the bend and runs off towards the southwest. From metes and bounds found on the deed of land by William A. Burkhead to Jesse D. Cox, Old Mount Moriah Methodist Church once stood on two acres located on the east side of Hartsell Road about one hundred yards from the bend. Just beyond this site, a clearly visible dirt farm road turns off to the west. It runs west and jogs north before continuing west around a field. As the dirt road enters a narrow wooded area, the cemetery will be in the middle of a field just to the south. It appears as a small wooded lot with five sides. Running off to the east-southeast of the cemetery is a fence line dotted with cedar trees. And somewhere within 100 yards of the cemetery, James Adam Love stated that during his lifetime the remains of the old James Love home was still visible.
In 1820, the General Assembly of North Carolina ordered that a survey be made of Rocky River. Over six feet in length, the canvas map not only defines the run and elevation of the river, it also locates early mill dams and the homes of prominent land owners. The map may have been an early feasibility study on whether or not Rocky River would make for a suitable canal route. As appears below, the homes of James Love and Michael Garman are clearly marked. At about the same location as the graveyard, this map also pinpoints the home of “Loves.”
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