Skip to comments.The Saga of the LongKnife
Posted on 07/11/2019 5:23:39 AM PDT by w1n1
For the Contemporary LongRifle Association's fundraiser, eight artisans recreated Colonial-era weapons, clothing and accoutrements, and this might be those items' backstory.
In a time of Looming war, a young boy is thrust into a man's shoes in colonial North Carolina, to protect his family & farm.
Twelve-year-old Wilbur Bowling had a smile on his face as he emerged from the forest that fringed his family's 25-acre farm on a cold March afternoon. He felt like a man. He looked like one too, at least in the opinion of Ruthie and Mary, his younger half-sisters. They were especially impressed with the stag-handled hunting knife he'd traded John Colby's wife for in exchange for his squirrel hunting services while her husband and oldest son were gone with the militia.
THE BOWLING FAMILY'S life, and Wilbur guessed everyone's life in the 13 American colonies, had turned upside down in the last nine months. Much had changed since the spring of 1775, when British soldiers trying to seize the arms and powder of the Massachusetts militia were met with armed resistance at Lexington and Concord.
As he walked toward home across their bare corn fields, Wilbur recalled the day in early May of '75 when he and his father first learned of the armed clashes in Massachusetts from a wagon driver they passed on the road to the county seat at Salisbury. By then, the news was more than a month old. Wilbur was confused about why the British soldiers who fought to protect them from the Indians and their papist French allies were now shooting at colonial militia. He asked dozens of questions, which his father patiently answered after pondering them over silences so lengthy, he sometimes thought his father had forgotten him.
AT THAT TIME, the prospect that his father would be called off to war had filled Wilbur with dread. He was 11½ years old then, the oldest male child. The thought of taking on his fathers duties was overwhelming and frightening. Hed wondered, how could he manage a farm, a distillery and their three slaves, and keep them and his mother and younger sisters fed and protected? When, almost in tears, he confessed these fears to his parents, he was surprised by their beaming smiles. As long as he lived, he would never forget the embraces, and the exchange of words that followed. Revisiting them in his mind helped to bolster his spirits in the face of challenges.
"Wilbur," his father said, both hands on his shoulders and looking him in the eyes, "You are not in this alone. I am flattered that you believe I actually do all those things on my own, but truth be told, your mother was doing quite well as a widow before I came along and married her. Though you arent my blood, I consider you my son and I have endeavored to teach you the things you need to know by example." "But, Father, I don't even know how to hunt!" Wilbur blurted out, revealing the depths of his lack of confidence. "Yes, you do," his father replied. "You've hunted with me hundreds of times. What you dont know how to do yet is shoot, and that is one of the easiest parts of hunting."
With that, his father presented him with his old bedroll blanket, rolled loosely around some long, slender object and tied with three thin strips of red wool stroud that he recognized as the scraps from the new capes Mother had sewn for herself and his half-sisters. Mother had already used one of those scraps to make him a decorative band for the crown of the hat shed bought him in Bethabara at the store the Moravians set up to sell to the 'outsiders" who didn't share their strange faith. But this roll wasnt another hat. It was heavy in his hands and inside he found a beautiful new rifle scaled down to his stature. The extravagance of the gift left him speechless.
"I had a gunsmith in Salisbury make it for you," Father said. "You have always admired my rifle so I had the gunsmith model yours after it. It's part tidewater Virginia gentleman and part frontier over-mountain man. It shoots a 70-to-the-pound ball that you can use on small quarry or deer." Then he paused for several seconds and finally added, "And if you must, God forbid, any Indian or man bent on doing the family harm." Read the rest of The Saga of the LongKnife.
Great read; thanks for posting!
Hold for later read
Well - that sucked me in .. I was disappointed to have it end. WELL DONE to the author!
Good read !
Being a Tennessean and having “overmountain men (and women) in my family tree made this read of particular interest to me. Thank you so much for posting. Great story and historically based.
That’s my family’s history, both sides. “English” ancestors outside the 100,000 acres Wachovia tract of the Moravians, and Moravian ancestors within it. But, mine were north. West would be what later became Yadkin and Davie Counties. Daniel Boone’s parents are buried in Mocksville, county seat of Davie.
There are some errors. The author repeatedly misspells “Tryon.” The author also attributes Patriot motivation in the Carolina Backcountry to anger over events well to the north. No, they didn’t need that they were already fairly alienated going back over a decade before.
Some historians regard the Regulator War as the first shots fired in the Revolutionary War. They had plenty of grievance. The Overmountain Men mentioned were largely comprised of former Regulators.
The author is a little unkind to the Moravians, too. Pacifist is too strong of a word, they did send medics, musicians and spiritual advisors. They just did not believe in fighting a war. Their allegiances were known. Look up where the very first Fourth of July celebration occurred.
Nitpicks aside, it’s a fine story. I was sitting here wondering as I read it, who were Bowlings? That surname just does not ring a bell. Bolling, yes. Bowles, yes but not Bowling. It was that believable despite a few common historical misconceptions.
Finally something from AMS worth reading.
Pinging the FR NC forum.
Mentions Bethabra ping.
oops, see that you are already here.
Re: Bowlings. The article infers the possibility the family traded in Salisbury as well as Bethabra.
Maybe they came to the area via the indian trading path (I-85 now) from Hillsboro and were not of original Plank Road stock?
I think they’re fictionalized history, the article seems to imply that.
There were English who came down from Maryland beginning in the 1760’s along with Moravians, they were actually right by Carrollton in MD. The Moravians settled on the far west of the Wachovia tract, and the English just outside of it across the river. Known as the Hope Settlement. Prominent English surnames with this group would be Douthit, Elrod, Boyer, Butner, Hamilton, Markland, Peddycoard, and Padgett.
No Bowling. I know of Bowles, Boles, Bolling and Bullins, but don’t associate them with the English Hope Settlement crowd.
Salisbury would have been the county seat at the time, the entire area was Rowan County then. Later the area in question was split off from Rowan to form Surry County with county seat at “Old” Richmond. Then Surry was divided shortly after the war to create Yadkin and Stokes. The original Wachovia tract fell almost entirely into Forsyth when it was split off from Stokes in 1849.
That just means he stole it from somewhere else.
Thanks, that was a good read. Always makes me appreciate my home State when I read stuff like this.
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