Christopher Pless
Our Earliest Known Ancestor

Christopher Pless first appeared in the land records of Anson County NC. In 1762, he leased and then on the next day, purchased a 195-acre tract of land on [Dutch] Buffalo Creek. The transactions are detailed as follows:

[Lease](6-414, Anson Co. NC) 22 Mar 1762. Jacob Cook and wife Nancy to Christopher Ples. For five shillings sterling and the yearly payment of one pepper corn to paid at "the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel", Christopher leased 195 acres situated on both sides of Buffaloe Creek adjoing lands of John Brandon. Witnesses were David Duncan and Francis Beaty.

Deed (6-415, Anson Co. NC) 23 Mar 1762. Jacob Cook and wife Nancy to Christopher Ples. For twenty pounds proclamation money, on the next day as the transaction above, Christopher Pless purchased the same land on Buffaloe Creek.

This land was situated on what is now known as Dutch Buffalo Creek in present upper Cabarrus County, North Carolina. Dutch Buffalo Creek was the site of one of the earliest settlements of German Lutherans in the southeast United States. Before continuing, more needs to be said about the land and the evolving counties where the Pless's lived.

Prior to 1752, and comprising the western half of North Carolina, Anson County spread west beyond the mountains to the Mississippi River. In 1752, Rowan County was formed from the northern half of Anson County. Christopher Pless first owned land in 1762 Anson County, North Carolina. This land was very near the boundary line of Rowan County to the north. Even though Christopher officially resided in Anson, the county seat of Rowan was less than twenty miles to the north. In the same year as Christopher's land purchase, Mecklenburg County was formed from the majority of the western portion of Anson County. Dutch Buffalo Creek fell ito the newly formed Mecklenburg County. Just prior and in the same year of its formation, Christopher Pless purchased land in what became Mecklenburg County. In 1779, the northern half of what remained of Anson County was also cut off to form Montgomery County, North Carolina. Montgomery was adjoined to the west by Mecklenburg County. In 1792, Cabarrus County was formed from the eastern portion of Mecklenburg County. Near both Rowan and Montgomery Counties, Christopher's land fell into the newly formed Cabarrus County. Shortly after this divison, in 1798, the first gold in America was found in large deposits on the east side of Rocky River in Cabarrus County. The gold and dreams of finding more drove the local economy for the next thirty years. As already said, Mecklenburg (and later Cabarrus) was adjoined by Montgomery County to the east. Montgomery was a long county divided north to south at the mid point by the Yadkin River. The Yadkin becomes the Great Pee Dee River just south of old Montgomery County. Because of the dangerous difficulites in traversing the river to get to the courthouse on the east side, numerous petitions sought remedies to the situation. In 1841, and without fanfare, Stanly County was formed from the western half of Montgomery County.

Isuued 22 Nov 1771, Christopher Bless received Secretary of State Land Grant #2602, being 70 acres situated on the east side of Dutch Buffalow Creek. As with many of the grant records from this period, the actual survey and warrant are missing from the shuck which is still held at North Carolina State Archives. Though there is no surviving document for the grant itself, the land is identified n a later conveyance.

Found in the Rowan County Pleas and Quarter Sessions, the July 1775 session minutes record Christopher Pless. He and Michael Goodman provided securities for Phillip Yoest who was issued Letters of Administration on the estate of Christina Yoast, deceased.

Dated 6 Apr 1772, Christpher Bless purchased 175 acres (14-1, Mecklenburg Co. NC) from Jacob Cook and wife Ann. Very difficult to read, the deed indicates an earlier conveyance of the land bearing date 25 Jul 1754. The land is situated in Mecklenburg County on the east side of Buffalow Creek. Witnesses Boston Lenz and _______ Shinn.

On 3 Sep 1777, Christopher Bless purchased a 16-acre portion of a tract of land (7-328, Mecklenburg Co. NC) from Jacob Kline and wife Katherine. Bounded with a maple tree marked by _________ Phiffer, the land was situated on the west side of Buffalow Creek and adjoined the boundary line of Rowan County to the north. The transaction was witnessed by Jason _________ and "names wrote in Dutch."

Being a German Lutheran, Christopher Pless settled with others of the same faith in a community on the Cabarrus/Rowan County NC line. He was a member of Zion Church, which is fondly known as Organ Lutheran. This name comes from the fact that an early member built an organ for the church which is believed to be the oldest or first built in the southern United States. Page one of the earliest minutes for the church begins with a minister's account of the members of the congregation who had worked to build the church. Written in 1789, he refers to the church as "Organ Church" and further states that construction began in 1774. As follows, Chritopher Pless and other family friends are included in the list:

In the year 1774 after the birth of Christ the following members of our congregation
began to build the so-called Organ Church, namely:

                         George Ludwig Siffert
                         Wendel Miller
                         Peter Eddleman
   (Johannes)            John Steigerwalt
                         Phillip Cruse
                         Peter Steigerwalt
                         Micheal Guthmann
   (Christoph)           Christopher Pless 
                         Leonard Siffert
                         Jacob Klein
    (Anton)              Anthony Kuhn
    (Georg Heinrich)     George Henry Berger
    (Christoph)          Christopher Guthmann
    (Johannes)           John Hintelmann
    (Johannes)           John Eckel
                         Bastian Lens
                         Jacob Lens
     (Georg)             George Eckel
     (Frans)             Francis Oberhirach
     (Johannes)          John Jose
     (Heinrich)          Henry _ensel

(Signature and date in Latin-)
I have written this with my hand C. A. ___ torch
d. t. V. D U

for the time being minister of the word of God
The 31st day of January, 1789

Zion [Organ] Lutheran Church was first built in 1774. Likely driven by the need of a larger building, in 1794, the congregation undertook the constuction of a new Church. Our Christopher Pless was one of the men who helped to build the first church located some distance from this second building that still stands. Organ Church is a must see for every person who loves history and things with age. Built of locally quarried stone, wagons had to travel to Charleston to bring back seashells for the making of mortar. On one such trip, four large timbers believed to be ship masts were brought back for for use as the main supporting posts. In a square pattern in the center of the church, the masts rise from what was once a stone floor and support both the balcony and roof. For heat, a fire pit was situated in the open area between the masts. There was once an open hole in the roof that served as a chimney. Just as the mast is the powerful arm that propelled early sailing vessels across the oceans, I can only imagine the symbolism these brought to sanctuary. And there is the organ. Built by John Stirewalt, the organ was used for many years until it eventually fell idle due to age and disrepair. It has been said the organ parts were cut up and used to make rulers for the children in the community. Note that John's daughter married Henry, a son of Christopher Pless. The cemetery wraps around one side of the church, in front of it and then around to part of the other side. This side with few graves is believed to be the sacred ground where early members were buried. There are but a few unmarked rocks in that area.

Christopher Pless died ca. 1785. In an unmarked grave, he is likely buried at Organ Lutheran Church. This Church .....or was he buried at the first church? Note that Christopher's son Henry is buried with a large properly carved stone marking his grave. He is buried near the older hallowed ground at the new church. We know of Christopher's approximate death date from his estate record and later conveyances of his land. Found at North Carolina State Archives in box #31, one document survives representing the estate of Christopher Pless. It reads as follows:

Chr. Bles

Adm. Bond

March 29 1785

Mecklenburg County

We Bastion Lentz Peter Baringer, Jacob --- Berringer and Jacob Kline-Do
Acknowledge ourselves Indebted to his Excellency the governor for the amt being in final sum of
Nine Hundred pounds
To be paid by us our heirs jointly & severally firmly by these presents,
But to be void on condition that
Boston Lentz --- -
doth well & Timely Administrator of the goods & chattels rights & credits of
Christopher Bless --Deceased and perform the several duties which by law are
required to be given under our hands and seals this

29h day if March 1785

Bastian Lenz (seal)
Peter (x) Baringer (seal)
Jacob Kline (seal)
Jacob Baringer(seal)

The above estate document was the last record I found for Christopher Pless in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Being the first of a series found in the Cabarrus County Pleas and Quarters Sessions, the next records indicate that Christopher's wife remarried and that the rightful heir to the estate was not quickly settled. These records also serve to identify some of the sons of Christopher Pless. As follows, the first two records appear in Book 1, page 179. Recorded 5 Nov 1796, Martin Pless sold Henry Pless a 70 and 175-acre tract. Was the 175 acre tract the same land that once belonged to Christpher? Also, in the next court book entry, Dietrich Lamen and wife Hannah released the dower right of Hannah to Henry Pless. The record goes on to say that Hannah is the "former widow of Christopher Bless, deceased." Hannah and her husband Dietrich Lamen released three tracts containing 261 acres total. The conveyance was recorded 15 Mar 1797.

Deeded 15 Mar 1797, on 15 Mar 1797, Letick Lemmon and wife Hannah (x) Lemmon of Rowan sold their interest in the estate of Christopher Pless to Henry Pless of Cabarrus County. For thirty pounds, Letrich and Hannah sold Hannah's claim as former wife and heir. The deed clearly defines the three tracts of Christopher Pless lands as a King's Grant of 70 acres dated 22 Nov 1771 and adjoining Francis Yost lands, a 175-acre tract on the east side of Buffalow Creek conveyed by Jacob Cook on 6 Jan 1785, and 16 acres conveyed by Jacob Cline on 3 Sep 1777. Recorded Apr. 1797 in the Pleas and Quarters Session book 2, page 359, the witnesses were Joseph Shinn and Martin Pless. Dated 19 Nov 1798, and for the same sum of 30 pounds, Joseph Pless also sold his interest in the Christopher Pless lands. This record is simililar to the one above. Witnesses by Christian Lattaman and Martin Pless, the deed was proven in January 1799.

On 5 Nov 1796, Martin Pless "makes a quit claim to his brother Henry Ples" for the prpoperty of "their father Christopher Pless, decd. The deed identifies the same three tracts of land. Proven in court in Apr 1797, the transaction was witnesses by Tetrick Leman and Peter Deal.

Seeking to find what eventually happened to Christopher's wife Hannah, I have begun to look at records for Dietrich. The name Dietrich Leymann appears twice in early records of Organ Church. In 1804, a communicant in the name of Hannah Leyman also appears in the record. Who was Dietrich? Interestingly, many from Christopher's community had migrated from Pennsylvania through Surry County NC which was also heavily populated with germans. Living in Cabarrus County NC, James Allison Love had a daughter Elizabeth who married Henry Shore in Surry County. Being a Moravian, the 1824 funeral rights of Elizabeth Shore appear in diary of a minister named Lehman. In this record, the minister points to small pocs as a likely death and the fact that Elizabeth was the daughter of Mr. Love from Virginia. Could Dietrich Lehman be related to the Lehman's of Surry County?

Looking at the 1800 census for North Carolina, a Dietrich Lemmond appears in Iredell County. Iredell is nearby to the west. Looking for quick leads of confirmation, I searched through the Iredell County Heritage Book. Children of Bostian Lenz also made the move to Iredell. Since he was an adminstrator for the 1784 estate of Christpher Pless, it is possible that Hannah and Dietrich moved to Iredell County. Stay tuned.......

The Children of Hannah and Christpher Pless are:

Peter Pless


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