As found on his tombstone, Peter Pless was born on 14 Mar 1784. The son of Christopher and Hannah Pless, we know that Peter's father died in or just before 1785. This means Peter never knew his father. In the mid 1790's, documents related to Christopher's estate indicate that Hannah had married second to Leitrich Lemons/Lamon. One of these deeds indicates that Hannah and Lietrich Lemon lived in Rowan County at that time. They likely lived over the line nearer to Organ church. So by age ten, Peter Pless was possibly living in the home of his step-father or even that of a brother.
Proof that Peter is the son of Christopher Pless can be found in an 1805 land transaction. Like his other brothers, when Peter reached twenty one years of age, he sold all rights to three tracts that once belonged to Christopher Pless. Dated 14 Nov 1805, the land (6-90, Cabarrus Co. NC) was sold to older brother Henry Pless. Witnesses were Jacob Coleman and _o-smers ____.
At some point in the early 1800's, Peter moved less than twenty miles south to lower Montgomery County, North Carolina. In 1811, Peter Pless signed a petition seeking to divide Montgomery County. Populating the lands around the Rocky River (on the Cabarrus County line), the great mix of citizens sought fortune and livelihood in the gold mines. As found in articles written in the Carolina Observer, gold mining was a large industry drawing people from all over the country. While some discovered treasures, others lost life and fortune.
Prior to 1820, Peter Pless married Elizabeth the daughter of Daniel Boger. As purported in other family histories, Daniel may have married Elizabeth Misenheimer. Proof of this marriage lies in a Bible record discussed in BOGER family forums online. Daniel Boger owned and operated one of the earliest gristmills on the Rocky River. My friend John Blair Hagler found a wonderful map of Rocky River dated 1820. The map identified both the riverís location and elevation from beyond the headwaters to the mouth. It is our belief the map may have been an early study determining the viability of using Rocky River as a canal route. Anyhow, on this map in 1820, Daniel Bogerís mill is identified just west of where Dutch Buffalo Creek enters Rocky River. And just west of that was then located Haglerís Ford:
Daniel Boger died ca. 1832. Dated 15 Apr 1833, ďMartin Boger of Cabarrus and Peter Pless & Elizabeth Pless his wife of the County of MontgomeryĒ sold
ďthat piece or parcel of land situate lying and being in the County of Cabarrus being the lands wherof Daniel Boger died seized and possessed of on the waters of Rocky River adjoining the lands of John Biggers heirs Solomon Karraker and Joseph Howell and others being the undivided interest of the said Martin Boger and Elizabeth Pless in the said lands which came to them by dissent on the death of their father Daniel BogerĒ (12-88, Cabarrus NC).
For $400 dollars, Elizabeth Pless and Martin Boger sold interest in their fatherís estate to John H. Bost. He is accredited with building a mill on the site where Daniel Boger first operated his mill. In 1912 flood waters washed away the mill at which time it was relocated a short distance away. Today Bostís mill has been restored and provides a wonderful scenic stop when traveling the roads around Reed mine.
By the late 1830's, much of the mining had slowed to trickle. Many people went south to Georgia or west to the mountains in search of new mining opportunities. Some of our Pless families made this move, but Peter Pless stayed, or at least died in Montgomery (later Stanly) County.
Like Cabarrus and Rowan counties, Montgomery had a large population of Germans. Peter Pless attended Flat Rock Lutheran Church. Formed in 1835 on land donated by Mathias Furr, Flat Rock was a simple log chapel situated less than a mile north of present day Stanfield. As the Methodists and Baptists gained in numbers, Flat Rock closed its doors and in the 1890's was layed down. Even though today there is no evidence of a church ever being there, the surviving cemetery is clearly the resting place of a substantial lutheran community. Surnames include Reap, Pless, Furr, Sossaman, and others. Both slaves and their masters are buried in this cemetery. In one row of the cemetery lies Peter Pless, his son Solomon Pless, daughter-in-law Winna Murry Pless (wife of Adam), and Mathias Furr.
Gone to Arkansas
In the 1840 Montgomery County Census, Peter Pless was listed as: ________________. In the following year, Stanly County was created from the western portion of Montgomery County. This was the land where Peter Pless lived. In the decade of the 1840's, records indicate the family of Peter Pless were on the move to Arkansas. At the same time, he was expanding his holdings in newly formed Stanly County. Was Peter staying in North Carolina or planning to leave for Arkansas?
On 10 Jul 1844, Peter Pless signed for three Federal Land Grants in Pope County, Arkansas. The grants were for 80, 160, and 40-acre tracts. Peter's son Garret also signed for a 40-acre tract on the same day. At the same time, land grant records indicate a few other citizens from Peter's North Carolina home county also acquired land in Arkansas. The names include Crews, Hearne, and Shinn. Looking through the Bureau of Land Management records, I had believed there would have been a larger number of people from North Carolina than are shown. From the Pope County Tax List for 1844, we know that many more neighbors also purchased land Arkansas. Looking at the Pope County Genweb Archives, you will be able to review this tax list for yourself.
Enetered on 9 Apr 1844 and issued in August and September of 1844, Peter Pless and Leonard Green received two land grants on Rock Hole Creek in Stanly County. Peter's son Solomon was a chain bearer for both grants. Rock Hole Creek was so named for the large holes that swirling waters had created in the bedrock near the creek's mouth. It is believed that early American Indians used the natural structures as cooking ovens. Situated in southwest Stanly County in Furr Township, Rock Hole Creek rises just north of the town of Stanfield. Flowing south and just to the west of Stanfield, the creek empties in the Rocky River. Also a mile north of Stanfield and less than a quarter mile east of Rock Hole Creek, Peter Pless was later buried at Flat Rock Lutheran cemetery. His home was likely in that vacinity. The two deeds are described as follows:
(Grant #94, Stanly Co. NC) Ent. 9 Apr 1844, Sur. 14 Apr 1844, Iss. 19 Aug 1844. Issued jointly to Peter Pless and Leonard Green. Being 100 acres on the waters of Rock Hole Creek adjoining their other 100 acre entry and Mathias Furr lands. Chain bearers were John E. Teter and Solomon Pless.
(Grant #76, Stanly Co. NC) Ent. 9 Apr 1844, Sur. 13 Apr 1844, Iss. 30 Sep 1844. Issued jointly to Peter Pless and Leonard Green. Being 100 acres on Rock Hole Creek adjoining Mathias Furr lands. Chain bearers were John E. Teter and Solomon Pless.
What was going on? In 1844, Peter Pless signed for three land grants in Arkansas and also was co-issued two land grants in Stanly County, North Carolina. Did Peter enter land in North Carolina in the spring, travel to and sign for land in Arkansas in the summer, only to return by August to receive the land earlier entered in Stanly County, North Carolina? Or did Garret Pless go to Arkansas and sign for his father Peter Pless's land grants? Or, after entering land in North Carolina, did Peter Pless go to Arkansas and allow Leonard Green to take care of issues back home? The answer to this question may never be known. However, believing in a sense of adventure, the later wording of Peter's will makes me believe he made the journey. Peter may have made the journey and returned after his North Carolina grant was issued.
Back in Stanly County
In the 1850 census, Peter Pless and family are listed as:
|549/552, Stanly NC
Daniel Reap 43 farmer
Elizabeth M. Pless 8
551-554, Stanly NC
Peter Pless 67 Farmer
Sarah 4/12 B
|552/555, Stanly NC
Solomon Pless 24 laboror
Eliza C. 23
Julia A. 5/12
Written on 19 Sep 1854 in Stanly County, North Carolina, Peter Pless wrote his Last Will and Testament. He began by bequeathing to son Solomon, two home tracts containing a total of 230 acres. Next, Peter bequeaths all his lands in Pope County Arkansas to daughter Catherine. He divides the kitchen furniture between wife Elizabeth and their youngest daughter Malinda. Peter also bequeaths $200 to Malinda and $50 to her daughter Sarah. Note that in the 1850 Stanly County Census, 4/12 year old Sarah Pless was listed as black. Peter then states that earlier gifts to son Charley and daughter Elizabeth shall not be affected by the will. Peter Pless closes by appointing his "son friend" Adam to be executor of the estate.
In writing the will, Peter Pless included a clause that needed legal clarification as to intent. The clause is:
My will & desire that all the residue of my estate if any after taking out the devises and legacies above mentioned shall be sold and the debts owing to me collected and if there should be any surplus over and above the payment of debts expenses and legacies that such surplus shall be equally divided & paid over to my son Adam and my daughter Malinda My will & desire is that my daughter Malinda equal part in this last devise to her bodily heirs equally to be divided between them and said legacies to be paid over to the above mentioned within two years from my decease.ĒFound in records of the North Carolina Supreme Court, debate over the meaning of this clause was settled in the highest court of the state. In the case John A. Pless vs. James A. Coble et. al., we learn for the first time that Peter Plessís daughter Melinda married James A. Coble. Seeking clarification so as to be able to settle the estate, John Adam Pless provides the following deposition in Spring 1859: Your petitioner further shows that he is the person referred to as Testatorís son Adam & Melinda his daughter who intermarried with James A. Coble previous to the death f Testator and that the Defendants Elizabeth Coble and Peter Coble are the only children of James A. Coble & wife Melinda both of whom are infants of tender years and born previous to the death of your petitionerís testator. So from this record, we now know that Peterís daughter Melinda married James A. Coble.
Seven days after the will was written, and dated 25 Sep 1854, Peter Pless sold 100 acres to his son Solomon. Being one half of a tract that belonged to said Peter Pless and Leonard Green, the land was situated on the east side of Rock Hole Creek. Witnesses to the transaction were Mathias Furr and Nelson Smith. This transaction was not recorded until May 1869.
The 1860 census shows the Peter Pless family as:
57-57, Stanly NC
Solomon Pless 34 Farmer
Eliza C. 33
Julia A. 10
Mary J. 8
Martha C. 5/12
|58-58, Stanly NC
George Long 31 Farmer
Elizabeth Pless 65
|87-87, Stanly NC
John A. Pless 37 Farmer
Elizabeth M. 17
Luther A. 14 school
Mary A. C. 12 school
Martha M. 10 school
Catherine M. 8 school
Daniel C. 6 school
Sarah E. 5
Martha H. 2 John A. Jr. 3/12
Peter Pless was born 14 Mar 1784 and died 25 Feb 1858. He is buried at Flat Rock Lutheran Cemetery. Though Elizabeth outlived her husband, she did not appear in the 1860 Stanly County census. She likely died in the 1850's and likely rests beside her husband Peter.
The children of Peter and Elizabeth Boger Pless are:
Catherine Pless married George H. Teeter
John Adam Pless married 30 Sep 1845 Catherine Efird
Solomon Pless married ca. 1848 Elizabeth Caroline Furr
Peter's father, Christopher Pless
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