WNC History Timeline

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www.childers-shepherd.org, 4 Jan 2009
                        John Shepherd (b. 1734): Biographical Notes

Sources for the following:

Title: The Ancestry of Grover and Harrison Shepherd
Author: Brodrick Shepherd
Abbrev: Brodrick Shepherd
Abbrev: The Ancestry of Grover and Harrison Shepherd

Title: Early Settlers of Reddies River
Author: Paul W. Gregory
Abbrev: Paul W. Gregory
Publication: Wilkes Genealogical Society, Inc. 1976
Abbrev: Early Settlers of Reddies River.

On November 15, 1775, John sold his 500 acres of land in Spotyslvania County to William Arnold, Jr
(This transaction was witnessed by George McNeil who also moved to Reddies River). With his wife,
Sarah, and seven children (ages 1-15), John Shepherd joined his brothers James Shepherd and
Robert Shepherd, and their families, in a move to the Reddies River area of Wilkes County, North
Carolina in 1776.

In his book, The Early Settlers of Reddies River, Paul Gregory says:

"When John arrived on Reddies River, only a few scattered families were living there. It must have
been a highly satisfying experience for them to find that the fertile bottom land on both sides of the
stream beginning 'at the bend in the river' and extending North?ward to the forks of the river was still
uninhabited and unclaimed. The place where the wagons crossed the river was just north of the bend
in the river. The water was unusually deep at this crossing, hence the name deep ford. The crossing
was also located at the base of a hill, giving the name Deep Ford Hill. It is here that John settled.
Reddies River was flanked on either side not only with wide, fertile bottom land but also with mountain
land covered with heavy timber, abounding in an assortment of wild life. The waters of Reddies River
were clear, clean, swift, and cold. This is the place that John sank his roots never to move again.

"Earl of Granville

"When John arrived on Reddies River, most land of this area belonged to Earl Granville, Lord
Proprietor for the British Government. Furthermore, no land was available for sale or lease, as the
British land office had been closed several years prior to this date. Only a very few settlers actually
owned the property on which they lived. Thus, more early settlers took possession (squatted on) land
of their choice, with the idea of later buying or leasing tbe property when the land office was reopened.
This is what John did.

"On July 4th 1776 all land was confiscated and all land transactions with the British Government were
invalidated. The confiscation act provided a way for the early settlers to own the land they had
improved and to which they laid claim. The settlers were required to register their land with the local
government as a basis for subsequent land grants. On April 24th, 1778, John entered his land,
claiming 405 acres, beginning at the bend in the river near Deep Ford and extending northward to the
forks of the river, including property on both sides of the river. Although John later bought many
additional acres of land, it was here that he reared his family, and it is here that John and his wife,
Sarah, lived for the rest of their lives." [1]

"John purchased additional acreage in later years. In 1787 he was listed in the Wilkes County tax roles
as being taxable for 645 acres.

"Undoubtedly, John worked hard to rear his family and help build the infrastructure of his new

"John may have been a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He is listed in a roster of soldiers that served
under Captain William Lenoir in an expedition against the Indians dated May 31, 1776. However, his
name is crossed out on this list along with some others with no explanation.

"John served many times on the Wilkes County Court of Pleas as a juror and participated on
committees that laid roads through the Reddies River area. On June 3, 1778, John was part of a jury of
12 that was commissioned to "lay out a road the best and most convenient way from the Deep Fourd
on Reddies River to Benajah Pennington's mill and make report thereof to the next court." [2]
Pennington's Mill was located in Grassy Creek, now part of Ashe County, North Carolina near the
border with Grayson County, Virginia.

"On January 24, 1786, John was ordered to oversee the layout of a road from his property to the "foot
of Mtn. at head of Reddies River." [3] This road is likely the predecesor to Old NC Hwy 16 which was
the primary route between Wilkes and Ashe Counties for many years. It is still used today as the main
road through the heart of the Reddies River area.

"John was also a driving force behind the establishment of churches in the Reddies River Area. The
first church established on Reddies River was located on the crest of Deep Ford Hill, just above lands
owned by John Shepherd, Sr. This church was established as early as 1783 and was in existence as
late as 1796. The members of this church basically comprised the families of John Shepherd, Sr., and
his brother Robert Shepherd.

"Following the church at Deep Ford Hill, was the Reddies River Church of Christ that was constituted
on April 7, 1798. John and Sarah Shepherd were constitutional members of this new church along with
members of their family, Robert Shepherd's family, and others in the community. The first Reddies
River Church of Christ building was located on Seed Tick Hill. Later, just prior to the civil war, a new
Reddies River Church was built on the North Fork of Reddies River and was named Reddies River
Baptist Church. This church still stands, and is now called Reddies River Primitive Baptist Church.

"Most of John and Sarah's children married and moved to Kentucky or Illinois in the early 19th century,
as did the majority of Robert Shepherd's children (John's brother). Descendants of these families are
now found primarily in the Kentucky-Illinois-Missouri areas."

(from Jerry A. Penley,