by: Linda Allred
William Elrod/Allred received his first land grant in North Carolina in 1753 when he was approximately 18 years old. Notations on some of his land records, filed in Orange, Rowan and Randolph Counties, mention William Allred and William Allred, Sr., possibly indicating that his father was living with him. William (Jr.) married Elizabeth Diffee and they raised their family, including a son named John, in what is now Randolph County. This land was located at the mouth of Bush Creek as it leaves Deep River, between todayís Cedar Falls and Franklinville.
John was 58 years old when his father died. Per Williamís will, dated October 14, 1822, his oldest son, John, received the largest portion of the estate, as was tradition. John received 1/3 of his fatherís land plus an additional 30 acres more than his brother, William, received. John and his brother, William, were also charged with taking care of their mother and making sure that she was provided for. John received the western most portion of the land bordered by the Deep River where he was already living with his wife, Sarah Spencer with whom he had 13 children. John had purchased this land, 5 1/2 acres, on August 15, 1820 from Archibald Ellison for $60.
On April 11, 1846, an elderly John filed his Revolutionary War Pension Application. As part of the application process, the applicant is asked to describe his service during the War and the resulting papers usually give us a wonderful account. However, when asked to tell about his years of service, John replied that he was 82 years old and "from old age and infurmity of body and sence he suffers a loss of memry and he can not state in detail his Revlutionary services as mite be expected or required....". The pension application lists that John entered the service in 1781 as a Private, serving under Captain Thomas Doogan. Their main duty was "puting down Col. Fanning, a tory...". John also said that he gave his discharge papers to his father, but they were "long since mis lade." A few stories of John's Revolutionary War service have survived over the generations and are still re-told today.
Within 2 years, Johnís mental capacity had failed so much that his son, Elisha, and son-in-law, Solomon Free, petitioned the court to be appointed his guardians, equivalent to todayís Power of Attorney. The court papers, filed November 8, 1848, state that Elisha and Solomon had declared John "non compus mentis" and the Sheriff was ordered to summon 12 jurors to look into the matter. The sheriff acted quickly and court papers dated the next day (November 9, 1848) state that the 12 jurors agreed, John was mentally incapable of handling his affairs and they declared him a "lunatic". The jurors also estimated that John owned land worth about $1,000 and personal property worth about $1,000-1,200. Solomon Free was appointed Johnís guardian.
I wondered why Johnís son-in-law (Solomon) was appointed guardian instead of his son (Elisha). After careful study, I have decided the court chose Solomon for two reasons:
1. From land records I learned that Solomon lived in Cedar Falls on land bordering Johnís and was within walking distance of Johnís home. Elisha lived about 20 miles south, closer to todayís Coleridge.
2. Although Elisha was literate, he wasnít very well educated, probably only having received the basic skills from his parents while growing up. Solomon, on the other hand, had been raised in a fairly wealthy and very influential family in Randolph County. The Free/Feree family were well educated and many were mill/factory owners, lawyers, and court officials. Solomon was, most likely, better able to deal with the business affairs than Elisha.
Elisha, however, was very involved in his fatherís care and is listed in most of the court documents filed in 1848 and 1849. This tells us that Solomon was careful to consult Elisha before filing any paper work or selling any of Johnís property.
During the Spring term of Court 1849, Solomon filed a court petition asking for permission to sell 30 acres of Johnís land to H. B. Elliott, owner of the Cedar Falls Manufacturing Company (CFMC). Johnís land bordered the CFMC land on the west side along the Deep River. CFMC needed to build a new grist mill and had decided that a portion of land owned by John would be the perfect spot for it. However, CFMC warned, that if John (or his guardian) refused to sell the land, CFMC would build the grist mill at another spot just below Johnís land. The problem was that a dam and grist mill built at the other spot would flood Johnís land, destroying it and causing John and his family to have to move. This was a classic "sell the land or weíll force you out" move by a powerful company trying to force itís way onto a lone man. Solomon, however, had been spending the last several months straightening out Johnís business and personal affairs and knew that John didnít have enough money or income to pay all his debts. Solomon agreed to sell the 30 acres to Elliott and CFMC, stating that the land was "poor", no good for farming, therefore useless to John and his family, and this would be a good way to raise the necessary money to pay bills with. The price agreed on was $500.
By filing this petition, Solomon was asking the courtís permission to sell the land. Two witnesses (Dr. Lorenzo D. Wood and James Marsh) were called by the court to testify and they agreed, the land was "very thin and much worn and that a support cannot be made" and that "it will in all probability sell for a fair price." On April 10, 1849, Solomon had the 30 acres surveyed per the courtís request. The court agreed to the land sale and on August 10, 1849, Solomon, Elisha, John (Elishaís brother) and Eli Spoon posted a bond of $2,500 to guarantee that the sale would be fair and the proceeds distributed fairly among the family (after Johnís debts were paid). They also agreed to sell the rest of Johnís estate at auction as John was no longer able to live there or tend to his property. However, John didnít live long enough to witness the auction. Sometime between August 10th and August 30th, the date of his estate auction, John died. The auction, now termed a "crying sale" was attended by many members of the family and earned a total of $1,690.98. After paying all Johnís debts, a balance of $1,372.43 was left, so Solomon and Elisha divided the remaining money among Johnís heirs, giving each of Johnís 12 children $114.37 each. They carefully noted that in the case of Johnís deceased daughters, Jane Allred Carter and Luvicia Allred Dougan, their children would receive their motherís share. Interestingly, one of Johnís sons, William, was not mentioned in any of the court documents. Some family records show that William died in 1835, but I could find no documentation to prove this. That would explain, however, why he was not mentioned in the court papers.
The children and grandchildren mentioned in the estate records are:
As is true with most families when the time comes to divide money or property, there is always one child who feels he/she didnít receive their fair share. In this case, it was one of Johnís younger daughters, Aley. Aley, who never married or had children, filed suit against her siblings on September 26, 1849 asking for $500 in "damages". For some reason, Aley had not received her share of the money raised from her fatherís estate and went to the court for help collecting. The papers filed during the November term 1849 shows that Aleyís brother, Claiborne and sister Lovinia were siding with her in demanding payment of her share. On November 24, 1849, the court agreed and awarded Aley $150 in damages (plus $1.85 in interest) to be paid from Johnís estate. Now, remember, after paying Johnís debts, Solomon divided the amount of money left from the estate sale and gave each sibling the same amount, $114.37 each. When Aley was awarded $150 (plus interest), more than the rest of her siblings, this meant that each sibling had to pay back some of the money so that Aley could receive the full amount the court awarded - to make up the difference from the $114.37 to the awarded $150 plus interest. They were not happy about this and didnít rush to pay Aley. Aley was in court again August 26, 1850 trying again to collect the $150 awarded her by the court. This lawsuit seems to have started a family feud that never was healed. When Aley died, her will (dated March 21, 1866) names only one sister, Lovinia and one nephew, John Gray. No other family members are mentioned.
Where John and his wife, Sarah Spencer Allred, are buried remains a mystery. Notations in the Feree/Free family and Trogdon family files in the Randolph Room (Asheboro Public Library) and the family history written by John and Sarah's grandson, Brazilla, lead me to believe that John and Sarah are buried in the old Allred-Trogdon cemetery near Cedar Falls. This cemetery, in the early and mid 1800ís, was one of the largest and best kept community cemeteries in the area. John and Sarahís daughters, Matilda "Matsey" and Sarah, married the Free brothers, Solomon and William, whoís mother was William "Billy" Trogdonís grand daughter, so John and Sarah had a family connection to the cemetery. Remember, Solomon Free was Johnís guardian and estate executor. Also, the cemetery could be seen from Johnís land; it was located on top of a small mountain less than 1/4 mile south of Johnís home. This makes it the perfect place to bury John and Sarah, right where family members could see their peaceful grave site from Johnís home. However, this graveyard was abandoned about 150 years ago and is in horrible shape as you can see from these two photos. Although itís been estimated about 200 people are buried there, in the summer of 2000, only identifiable 5 grave stones were found. The rest have either been destroyed by time or are buried under forest debris.
In the mid 1960ís, William Mendenhall placed two grave markers in the cemetery at Grays Chapel Methodist Church in Randolph County. This cemetery, located about 9 miles north of Johnís land, is where Johnís brother, William and his wife, Patience Julian Allred, are buried. The two markers, one for John and the other for his father, William, were placed beside William and Patienceís graves. Unfortunately, William Mendenhall, a descendant of John, is now deceased, so why he chose to place the markers at this location will remain a mystery. Perhaps Mendenhall, not being able to find the actual graves, chose to place these markers as a memorial to his ancestors. The marker for John notes that he died in 1850, which per his estate records, is not correct. (John died between August 10 and August 30, 1849.) Mendenhall also noted on the markers that William, Johnís father, was a Revolutionary War veteran, which has yet to be proven.
March 2002 members of the East Coast Allred Family Association found William's grave at the Allred-Trogdon Cemetery. Buried beside his is his wife, Elizabeth Diffee. However, John and Sarah's graves have not been found at this time.
Johnís estate papers, original documents, are on file in the Research Room of the NC State Archives in Raleigh
Johnís land records, on microfilm, are also in the NC State Archives
Free/Feree family file, Randolph Room, Asheboro Public Library
Trogdon family file, Randolph Room, Asheboro Public Library
personal visits to Johnís land, Billy Trogdon cemetery and Grays Chapel cemetery (photos taken during the 2000 Allred Family Reunion.)
William Elrod/Allred will, original document, dated 1822, on file in the Research Room of the NC State Archives
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