The Cabin on the Battleground

P1020620AllenHousetrees copy

In 2012, my folks and I made our first trip to Randolph County, North Carolina to explore the area where my paternal ancestors lived. Specifically, we were looking for the old Millikan family homestead. (It would take two more visits before we were able to pin that down.) One of the things we did was stop in at a used bookstore. I was looking for books on the history of the region and came across a book titled, An Independent People: The Way We Lived in North Carolina, 1770-1820 (by Harry L. Watson). As I flipped through the pages I saw references to the John Allen family and in particular, John’s mother, Phoebe. Now I realize that “Allen” is not a very unique name, but Phoebe stuck in my head. I knew we had Allen ancestors & checked our genealogy to see that Phoebe Scarlet married John Allen. John & Phoebe had a son, John. This had to be the same family. So I bought the book and read the section on the Allen family.

The book tells how the Allens ended up in North Carolina in the time before the Revolution. John Allen (1749-1826) was the first son of John Allen (1721-1754) & Phoebe Scarlet Allen (ca 1721-1815). He was born in Pennsylvania and moved with his widowed mother and 4 siblings to the Snow Camp community of Orange County, North Carolina when he was about 13 years old. They had 600 acres of land in North Carolina that the elder John Allen had purchased but never settled. The book states that John Allen the younger took responsibility for the land when he came of age, as his mother had remarried and moved to neighboring Randolph County, NC.

John went back to Pennsylvania in1779 and married Rachel Stout (1760-1840) and returned to North Carolina to raise his family on the farm. According to the book, the Allens had 12 children, with 10 who lived to adulthood. Essentially, the few pages described the Allens as a typical “yeoman” family. They lived in a cabin with a single main room and a loft. They farmed wheat, oats & corn and provided for their large family as well as the community. They also had sheep cattle and hogs on the farm. John Allen was a merchant and had a small store that stocked “silk, satin, calico, buttons, pins, pencils, shoes & hardware.” They had vegetable and herb gardens. Rachel Allen was known as a “healer” in the community and “grew very skilled in the uses of roots, herbs and the traditional folk medicine of her neighborhood.” John also was a teacher, and “regularly contracted with his neighbors to instruct their children in reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic.”

The main focus of the section on the Allen family was their cabin and how their home life related to it. Why the cabin? Well, turns out that cabin was moved from Snow Camp to the Alamance Battleground Historic Park in the 1960’s. So wait, some ancestors of mine had a cabin that was built about 1780 that was still standing and preserved at a Battleground? What was that all about?

According to information at the cabin site, “Allen family descendants lived in the house until 1929.” The Daily Times-News of Burlington, NC chronicled the project from the first documentation of the donation in the December 28, 1965 edition. The fund-raising article stated that the house was “donated to the state provided it is relocated at the Alamance Battleground.” The estimated cost of moving and restoring the house was $22,000. The house was moved the 13 miles from Snow Camp to Alamance on a flat bed truck mostly in two pieces, the main house and the roof. On June 11, the newspaper tells of the need for donations of large oak logs to be used in the restoration process. This restoration involved replacing much of the structure due to the deterioration of the wood. The dedication ceremony for the restored cabin took place on Sunday, May 28, 1967. Along with speeches from local dignitaries, there was a presentation by the Alamance Long Rifles organization which demonstrated the use of the old muzzle loaders that would have been used at the time of the Revolution.

Unfortunately, just as I found out about this cabin, I had to go home, so I couldn’t visit the site on that visit. But my folks were able to and they took some pictures. The book, An Independent People… provided more context to the photos.

First, looking at the exterior of the house: It is “a simple box of hand-hewn timbers.” Mud and grass seals the cracks between the logs. There are no windows, only 2 doors, so during the day, having the doors open would provide light & ventilation. Incidentally, the door openings were only about 6 ft high, so anyone taller than that would have to stoop to enter. “Wide eaves of the shingle roof extend over each entrance to form substantial porches.” The porches would have allowed space to do some of the daily work during the day. The back porch has a small enclosed room which could have served as a storage room or even John’s store. They would have kept the area surrounding the cabin clear of grass and vegetation to help cut down on insects and the potential of fire.

The interior of the cabin was one large room with a loft. The fireplace and hearth take up almost the entire side wall of the cabin. The stairs to the loft were accessed to the left of the fireplace. There would have been corn husk mattresses on the floor of the loft for the children.

Allen family heirlooms dating to the time of the Revolution were also donated along with the cabin. The grandfather’s clock and the walnut Chippendale desk were mentioned in John Allen’s will. Also, a walnut Chippendale blanket chest was donated. Prior to the move, these objects were on display to help raise money for the project. The trundle bed provided sleeping area for the parents and small children.

Hard to imagine, but a large loom takes up one corner of the room. It was a necessity and the wool from the sheep was processed and woven to make the homespun utilitarian cloth. Out the back door, another necessity, the smokehouse. Although I didn’t see a privy, I expect there was something of that sort at one time.

I did manage to visit the battleground and the cabin on our next visit to North Carolina and I find it quite interesting to think that something that is connected to my ancestors still stands and is being preserved for future generations to get a glimpse of how the early settlers lived before and during the time this new republic was being formed.

The direct connection to me comes through two of John’s siblings. It took a while to figure these links, and I’m not fully confident of the dates, but here goes:

His sister, Hannah (1741-1834) married Nicholas Barker (1737-1826), their son, Enoch (1776-1848) married Elizabeth Davis (1782-1834), their son, Elihu (1822-1910) married Hannah Jane Allen (1825-1899).

His brother, Samuel (1751-1834) married Hannah Cox (1751-1823); their son, John (1782-1867) married Martha Clark (1793-1866); their daughter, Hannah Jane Allen (1825-1899) married Elihu Barker (1822-1910).

Elihu and Hannah Jane Barker had a daughter, Martha Ellen (1858-1932) who married Lewis Elwood Millikan (1855-1949). Their son, Arza Millikan (1883-1964) was my great-grandfather.

So, to sum it up, John Allen was my 6Great Uncle, his sister Hannah my 5Great Grandmother and his brother Samuel my 5Great Grandfather.

Next time, the Allen family connection to the Alamance Battleground…

© MJM 2021

Enoch Barker’s Last Will & Testament

My Grandmother’s collection included a photo-copy of a hand-written copy of the Will of Enoch Barker. I’m not sure who transcribed it originally. Now, has available on-line, the digitized copies of probate records which include the official filed copy of this will. There were no other records associated with the will. For the most part, the transcription Grandma had was accurate, except it modified the old spelling for some terms. However, for whatever reason, the transcription did not include the name of daughter, Hannah.

So, here we go, Enoch Barker’s last will and testament:

Be it know to all people to whom it may concern that I Enoch Barker of Randolph County and state of North Carolina having in consideration the uncertainty of human life, do make this my last will and Testament in the manner and form following. I first will that all my just debts be paid together with my funeral charges as soon as conveniently may be after my decease by my Executor herein after named; I give and bequeath to each and every one of my sons and daughters as follows Two dollars to my daughter Sarah Cox. Two dollars to my son Daniel Barker and the cross cut saw. Two dollars to my son Nicholas Barker and the broad ax, Cooper jointer, tress hoops and croze. Two dollars to my son John Barker and one hundred and thirty five acres of land where he now lives according to our measure and reckoning, the dividing line between him and his brother Elihu, to begin at the black oak corner up sandy run thence west one hundred and fourteen rods to a stone, thence north forty rods to a stone, thence west forty six rods to a stone on the line of the other side of my land also one half of my pine Land on the waters of Bachelors Creek to be his right and property. Five dollars to my son Seth Barker and the old gun powderhorn moulds and wipers. Two dollars to my daughter Mary Barker also stock and other things to make her equal to her sister Sarah got, over and above what she has made for herself. Two dollars to my daughter Hannah Barker also stock and other things to make her equal to what her sister Sarah got over and above what she has made for herself; Two dollars to my son Elihu Barker and one hundred and sixty acres of land or the remainder part of my land where I now live after John‘s share is taken off; also the other half of my pine land on the waters of Bachelors Creek to be his right and property; also one horse creture saddle and bridle and other stock to make him equal with his other brothers the smith tools and the new fan to clean wheat to be John‘s and Elihu‘s. I also will and bequeath to my son Elihu Barker one feather bed and bedding, the old waggon and waggon gears & two other good pare of drawing chain; the new gun and what belongs to it, the clock and loom and tackling, one table and cupboard four stands to hold grain all the casks and barrels all of the loos plant and farming tools and the other tools, one pot the old brass kettle and log chain fire shovel and tongs arm chair and my desk of drawers. Two dollars to my daughter Thamer Barker also stock and other things to make her equal to what her other sisters got the case of drawers that was her grand mothers in the stead of a bureau. The remainder part of my estate to be equally divided amongst my four daughters above named parts and shares alike, and my three youngest daughters to have privilage of houseroom and one fire place sufficient for their comfortable accomodation, also have privilage of fire wood a garden to raise some things in as they formerly have had and the loom to do their weaving on and what they need for their use of the fruit; these privilages they are to have at the place we now live as long as they remain single; my other horse creatures not to be sold, but to remain on the plantation for my three youngest daughters and their brother Elihu‘s use as long as they remain single or need them; and they also be allowed grain for them and stock one year. I do hereby Nominate, Constitute and appoint my son Daniel Barker Executor of this my last will and testament. I also charge him to pay my debts and legacies according to the true intent and meaning thereof; in witness whereof I have here unto set my hand and seal; this second day of the fourth month in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty. Enoch Barker   Signed in the presence of Enoch Davis, Charles Davis, Elizabeth Davis.”

North Carolina Randolph County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions November Term 1848. The execution of this last will and Testament is duly proved in open Court by Elizabeth Davis, One of the subscribing witnesses to the same, and admitted to probate and as … to be recorded … B. F. Hoover, clerk”                    Copy of Will of Enoch Barker. Deceased the 14th of the 9th month 1848.

So who was Enoch Barker, anyway? He was born in Guilford County, NC in September 1776. He was a Quaker, so some of the information about him can be found in the Quaker Meeting minutes. He married Elizabeth Davis (1782-1834) November 23, 1800. He was my GGGG Grandfather. He wrote his will in 1840, Elizabeth had passed away by then.

Looking at the will, Enoch and Elizabeth had 9 children living at the time Enoch wrote it. Another son, Isaac, died in 1820 at the age of 10 years. I don’t have good sources for information about the children except birth dates from Holly Spring Meeting Minutes. The children were given a token remembrance of $2. Those who were married at the time Enoch wrote his will most likely already received more of an inheritance. The will gives a little bit of a picture of what Enoch had that he felt was important enough to mention.

Sarah (1801-1846) Was already married to Thomas Cox at the writing of the will. Sources I have indicate that she died before her Father.

Daniel (1803-1892) As the oldest son, he was named Executor. He was married as well. His wife was Lydia Davis. He received the cross cut saw.

Nicholas (1805-1846) Married to Catherine Cox at the time Enoch wrote his will. He was to receive the broad axe and barrel making tools. The croze was a tool to make the ridge at the top of the barrel to fit the top into. Died before his Father.

John (1807-1890) Was married to Anne Cox. Had been living on part of his Father’s land & now would inherit it.

Seth (1812-1894) Was married to Margaret Cox (sister to Catherine Cox, Nicholas’ wife). Received $5 instead of $2. Plus he received the “old gun” & its accessories.

Mary (1815-) Unmarried. Sources say she married David Farlow in 1845.

Hannah (1818-1889) Unmarried. Later married Mahlon Hockett.

Elihu (1822-1910) My GGG Grandfather, inherited his Father’s home. He also specifically received the blacksmith tools, a horse, saddle & bridle, other livestock and much of the household & farming goods. He was to share the “new wheat cleaning fan” with his brother, John.

Thamer (1827-) Unmarried. She was to receive her Grandmother’s “case of drawers.” In 1848, she married John Littler.

The rest of the “estate” was to be divided amongst the 4 daughters—which would probably be the remainder of the household goods not already mentioned. The three unmarried daughters were to be allowed to stay on the farm until they got married. The expectation was that they would have whatever would give them “comfortable accommodation.” With the marriages of Mary and Thamar before Enoch’s death, that left only Hannah to live on the farm with Elihu, until she got married in 1858.

Elihu Barker married Hannah Jane Allen in 1853. They moved to Hamilton County, Indiana in 1866. Hannah died in 1899 at the age of 73. Elihu died at the age of 88 in 1910. Their daughter, Martha Ellen, married Lewis Elwood Millikan. They had Arza Millikan, my Great Grandfather. I wonder if any of the items Elihu inherited were passed down through the generations?

© MJM 2017