Catawba County, North Carolina, previously a northern part of Lincoln County, was formed in 1842. Those with ancestors in Catawba Co. might also want to search records for adjacent counties, as the area had also been a part of Bladen County until 1750, Anson County 1750-1753, Rowan County 1753-1777, and Burke County, 1777-1782. Catawba County is located in North Carolina’s Piedmont, in the western portion of the state.
Catawba County sits amidst ridges and rolling hills in the northern section, and flatter areas in the south, with the Appalachian Mountains off to the west, and the coastal plain as one heads east. It is rich with waterways, important for early colonists for many reasons, including transportation.
Named after the Catawba Indians who roamed the area in the early years, German settlers migrated there in the late 1740s, as did English and Scots-Irish families. The Northern Irish Presbyterians, ‘Orangemen,’ Scot-Irish, English, and Scottish immigrants settled mostly in the southeast portion of what is now Catawba County.
The higher section of the county was similar to the Rhine Valley of French Germany, and many of the German families migrated to this area. They would have not been as homesick, perhaps, living here, and would have known the crops and animals that would thrive in such an area. The Germans included Rhenish Palatines, Swiss, Saxon, and other groups. Their religions included Lutheran, Mennonite, Moravian, Dunkard, Reformed, Anabaptist, and other Protestant sects.
Many of these settlers later moved to Southeast Missouri, which is what happened in our line of Whiteners.
Catawba County was the home of Heinrich Widner and his wife, Catharina Moll. The couple were German immigrants who married in Pennsylvania, but, like many, migrated to the Carolinas by 1750, probably using the Great Wagon Road. They would have submitted their land claim to the Crown through the Governor.
The land is still owned by Widner descendants- one generation after another has inherited the Widner land, which has never been sold after receiving the original land grant.
The French & Indian Wars were occurring regularly during this early settlement, and the families would have been very isolated due to frequent raids and depredations along the frontier. The American Revolution influenced those in this area as well- battles at King’s Mountain, Cowpens, and Ramsours Mill would have taken their sons, their livestock and crops, and caused much hardship among the settlers.
It most probably was not as romantic a time as seen in the movies. But the colonists persevered, and descendants now can walk their paths in Catawba County, North Carolina.
Notes, Sources, and References:
- Please Note: As stated above, the Weidner homestead and cemetery are on privately owned land. The original Weidner headstones have been moved to protect them and may be seen at the museum of the Historical Association of Catawba County; see http://catawbahistory.org/museum-of-history for more information. Also, the Weidner-Robinson Cemetery has been recorded on Find A Grave and 86% of the stones have been photographed- http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=2227187&CScnty=1668&CSsr=201&
- Photos by James Whitener, taken on his family trip to Catawba County, NC, July, 2014.
- Wikipedia entry for Catawba County, North Carolina: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catawba_County,_North_Carolina
- Catawba Co. NC at the NCGenWeb Project- http://www.ncgenweb.us/catawba
- Catawba County Land Grants on US GenWeb- http://www.ncgenweb.us/catawba/media/SouthWest.jpg
- Interesting information on the Great Wagon Road- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Wagon_Road
- Links to our recent blog posts on Heinrich and Catharina Weidner:
“Tombstone Tuesday: Heinrich and Catharina Weidner”- http://heritageramblings.net/2014/08/05/tombstone-tuesday-heinrich-and-catharina-weidner/
“Wishful Wednesday: Heinrich Weidner and Catharina Moll in Catawba County, NC”- http://heritageramblings.net/2014/07/30/wishful-wednesday-heinrich-weidner-and-catharina-moll-in-catawba-county-nc/
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