Letter from Abraham Hardin — who taught John Randolph Logan the “art and science” of surveying — to Lyman C. Draper, author of “Kings Mountain and Its Heroes”

Abraham Hardin (1789-1881) taught John Randolph Logan the “art and science” of surveying. Surveying was an advanced skill that few had at the time; therefore, it could be a lucrative occupation, though a hard one, especially in the early years of settlement and over rough, forested, and marshy ground. Abraham Hardin’s early mentoring of John R. Logan in surveying meant that Logan could later have the means to enter into government service, politics, church leadership, and education. For this reason, Hardin’s autobiographical sketch (below) is of interest.

Hardin was the deacon of Antioch Baptist Church for sixty years. A coffin-maker, Hardin made his and his wife’s coffins himself.

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Transcript: You seem to have some wish to know the place of my nativity and of my Early Life. In answer I would say to you that I was born in Rutherford County NC now Cleaveland County NC on the 22 day of June, 1789, of poor parentage when and where there was no schools so I was deprived of Letters and when I arrive to manhood I had to Labour in the Farm or Shop all day and Read and Study at night with out help except God’s blessings of good health and a retentive memory, and of a determined will. I had to work about five years to purchase a little tract of land & in 1811 I settled down in York County S.C. where I have resided for sixty years past and Served this county to the best of my ability as follows: Served the Church as Deacon & Superintendent of Sunday School for Sixty years, in the same time served the State & County as Civil Magistrate forty-two years, and Eight of that time as Representative  of The County in the State Legislature, also served as Surveyor of Lands Forty years, performed 100s of marriages and adjusting Litigation without Lawsuits, and making Coffins and thus I have Served the Last Two or Three generations according to their day and yet they Call and I am now awaiting the call come home but until I receive that Call I must still serve on.

I would tell you more of the favours conferred on me of sight & hearing and how to preserve the Eye and prevent the sight from receeding [sic] but I have spoken of self so much above that I beg to be excused. I know of nothing more to promote your work as Historian but if any thing does occur worth Notice I will forward it to you. I received your Books at Two different Times for which manafestations [sic] of Kindness I feel greatfull [sic] and wish you success in all your undertakings and I remain yours Truly          Abraham Hardin

Transcribed by Betty Logan


Byas, Cantrell, Moore in Caswell County, North Carolina

From Caswell County North Carolina Land Grants Tax Lists State Census Apprentice Bonds Estate Records, Katherine Kerr Kendall, Raleigh, North Carolina: Multiple Image Press:

Land Grants for Caswell County:

  • Nathan Byas, 267 acres, 10 Nov. 1784, Stones
  • Nathan Byas, 79 acres, 28 July 1779, Storied Cr.
  • Benjamin Cantrell, 15 acres, 18 Dec. 1799, Stoney Cr.
  • Joseph Cantrell, 47 acres, 3 Sept. 1778, Stoney Cr.
  • Moses Moore, 600 acres, 1 Aug. 1778, Little River

1777 Tax List of Caswell County: Nathan Byas and Joseph and Thomas Cantrell, Nash District


History: spaces, races, faces, places

Adam Gopnik brings us this interesting conceptualization of the evolution of history. The history of spaces underlies everything: “the history of terrains and territories … where plains and rivers and harbors shape the social places above … or around them.”

The first written history tends to be a “history of races. Our tribe’s myth is here, yours is over there, our race is called ‘the people’ and blessed by the gods….” (Your tribe? Not so much.)

The next evolution of history is that of faces: history as “the epic acts of bosses and chiefs … kings and Popes and sultans in conflict….”

And then there is the history of places: “where the ingathering of people and classes in a single city or state makes a historical whole bigger than any one face within it.”

Source: “Faces, Places, Spaces — The Renaissance of Geographic History,” Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, October 29 and November 5, 2012

Who could vote in colonial Virginia?

In List of Voters for Elections of Burgesses, 1764-1769, author Marian Dodson Chiarito quotes from Henning’s Statutes at Large, Vol. 7, 1756-1763: Eligible voters were those “… who hath an estate of freehold … in at least fifty acres of land, if no settlement be made upon it, or twenty five acres, with a plantation and house thereon, at least twelve feet square….”

Those who couldn’t vote: “… no feme, sole or covet, infant under the age of twenty-one, recusant, convict or any person convicted in Great Britain or Ireland, during the time for which he is transported, nor any free negro, mulatto or Indian, although such persons be freeholders….” [Note: A “feme sole” refers to a married woman acting as a single woman. A “recusant” means a former Catholic.]

A person had to have legal title for a year before he could qualify to vote unless “… such lands or tenements came to such person within that time by descent, marriage, marriage settlement or devise.”

Although we often say people came to America to “be free,” to “own their own land,” and to “practice their religion freely,” that certainly wasn’t the case in colonial Virginia. Voting was restricted to white males who owned land free and clear. Besides excluding women — half the population —  this meant male indentured servants couldn’t vote since they owned no land during their time of indenture. Blacks and Native Americans, even if they owned land, were ineligible. Catholics or even former Catholics couldn’t vote, either. During this time, voting in Virginia was restricted to white male Protestants (mainly Anglicans and Presbyterians) wealthy enough to own land.