Pine Tree Store
alias Pitch Landing, or Bethlehem, Ahoskie twsp,
located near Powellsville, NC
This is my working hypothesis - the way I see it as of
Pitch Landing on the Chinquapin was first known as Van Pelt's
Landing. It was also a King's public landing and place of inspection. Here was a
warehouse and also an inspector of the commodities for sale or export who
was appointed annually and kept there until just prior the Civil War. Tar,
pitch, turpentine, staves, headings, lumber, shingles, flax seed, pork, beef,
rice, flour, indigo, and butter were among the exports.
a Possession report of the
area ca 1758
"One of the first post offices in
Hertford County was established in Harrellsville Township at Pitch Landing, four
miles from Harrellsville. John Cooper was the first postmaster. The first
returns from that office were made to the Post office Department on October 1,
1802, but there is no record of the exact date of its establishment. The office
was discontinued on December 7, 1866, and re-established on September 5, 1870.
The office at Pitch Landing was permanently discontinued on March 9, 1881."John
O Askew III writing on the "History of Harrellsville" in 1939 for an
Historical Edition of the Hertford County Herald.
The Pine Tree Store or Trading Post was originally established
by the Sessoms family.
Later, the Pine Tree Store had belonged to James
Another "keeper of the store at Pine Tree" was Jesse A.
Jackson who also was the biggest promoter in building the
steamer that was later known as
"the Southern Star." About him, J
W Moore relates
"He was the contractor for making the bricks used in the construction of the two female colleges
[in Murfreesboro] and had realized profit in the undertaking. With the help of Glines & Graham, a New York commission house, and the contributions of numerous citizens of this vicinity, a fund was raised to build a
steamer [the "Chowan"] which was to become a regular packet
between Murfreesboro and the great city on Manhattan Island. "
Lately in the woods near Piney-tree Store,
in this county by torch light
Mr. Isaac Barnes of Bertie
to Mrs. Rachel Green.
The Hornets Nest, Murfreesboro, NC
Jan 7, 1813
Josiah Perry in the 18th
item of his 1820 will lends unto my Beloved wife Amelicent Perry all my Black smith tools, Cooper tools, & the following Negroes (viz) York, Bridget, Pat, Tamar, & children, Haywood Simon Dick & George my Brandy still also one third part of the land & plantation whereon I now live bounded as follows Beginning at
Timothy Walton's line at the part leading from my house to said Waltons Avenue which leads to pine Tree Store formerly Belonging to James Jones running thence to a pond and through to a small Branch at the School House thence along the cart path which leads to where the old school house stood to the Near branch thence down said branch to barbecue Swamp thence down the said Swamp to Timothy Walton's line thence along his line to the first station. I also lend my beloved wife as much land on the South Side of the Near branch as shall make pines enough to . . .. .......(line missing) .. . . of that purpose also the lightwood on the South side of the Road which is or may be on the Land which I exchanged with
James Ward for the pines & lightwood thereon growing & standing there lands to be given up when Each of us are done
making Tar & Turpentine on Each Track & Exchanged for the purpose aforesaid to have the said property during the period of her Natural life.
Deed Bk R-441 Bertie Co 26
May 1797 John Campbell, Jr. sold his father's seine fishery to Josiah Perry,
Samuel Rayner, James Ward, Charles Freeman, Jeremiah Freeman and Joshua Freeman,
Jr. It was located on the beach at Colerain.
Dear Aunt Sally: It's hard to say where Josiah Perry
was living. I know that I once knew where Barbecue
Swamp was, but I'll have to study over some maps.
With his property adjoining James Jones and various
Waltons and his having bought a tract from Isaac H.
Ward, it is tempting to think that it was near Maple
Lawn. However, it could have been down nearer the Chowan. After all, which Jones was the first to
acquire the Bazemore place? We don't really know.
And that would certainly be much closer to the initial
Walton holdings just over the river in Gates County. Also, James Jones II and his son-in-law Isaac Moore
owned the fishery and I think plantation at Lazy Hill
(Colerain Beach) at one time. So I think this is
going to take a lot more research to pin down. James
About Pitch Landing by James Elliott Moore ca 1970
Pitch Landing was a small
shipping station on Chinkapin Creek. The Van Pelts, a New York family of
Dutch extraction, had established the landing. It had its beginning with the
naval stores industry, a major source of income in colonial Carolina. All of
the products came from the native pine tree and included pitch, tar,
turpentine, staves, headings and lumber. Although the industry had its
impetus under the auspices of the British navy, it continued to be a vital
part of the economy after the Revolution. Speculation on the market was as
wild as modern Wall Street gambling, and many a man lost or won his
proverbial shirt while dealing in naval stores. Despite its present deserted
appearance, Pitch Landing was a scene of bustling activity in its day. For
years it was a vital institution in the life of southeastern Hertford County
handling all mail and freight for the region. It finally faded when sailing
ships became too large to navigate the channel.
Yankee Raid at Pitch Landing
Dec 4, 1864
The raid is reported by local
historian, John W. Moore
and also in the Official Record of the Navies.
war maps showing the area
showing how the community is both in Hertford and Bertie Counties
Pitch Landing on the Chinquapin is just to the top right of the map
Yes, the Gilmer map is what I have been referring to when I keep hearkening to the Civil
War map. Glad to know that you are aware of its existence. You will see that White Plains is very
clearly marked. That is all now thick woods. The houses were all derelict when Granddaddy was a boy and
the fields there grown up in scrub pine. You will also see that on the road from White Plains to Pine
Tree there were farms of Archer, Robertson and Adkins. I believe all of these places too are now preserves
belonging to Union Camp. My understanding is that Raby Woods was in this area. You see the very large
millpond. This would be White's Mill. The Gilmer Map doesn't show the little pond for Garrett's Mill, so I
must have seen that somewhere else.
The big house that John
Simons built is near the site of the old VanPelt home; the VanPelt cemetery was
in the field beside the old Sessoms homestead, perhaps the Van Pelt land
extended across the road.
The Sessoms homestead was in the immediate vicinity. Just
across the way from the store.
Then there were the Perrys. J.J. Perry was living next
door in 1863.
The cemetery there the earliest stone was for Mary E.
Perry, daughter of W.W. & Sallie Sessoms and wife of J.J. Perry, Born
Nov 24, 1825 and died April 15, 1879.
Jos. J. Perry, son of Freeman & Martha Perry, who was born Dec 25, 1817
and died May 9, 1882.
I think this was earlier the home of Freeman who was one of the younger
sons of Josiah Perry. I think this Josiah was the youngest son of John
Perry and Sarah who died about 1760 in Bertie.
The Bass place on the map is the old Ward home place, which
Ann and John Moore traded to the Basses when their home burned ca 1855 which was
adjacent to Maple Lawn.
The Daniel VanPelt Sessoms are shown living in the old Col.
William Jones home.
The map does not show the old Jones Place at the Jones Hole.
Timothy Walton was
resident there in 1820.
Dear Aunt Sally: No, I don't know where Timothy
Walton's place was. I think the road going past
Luther Brown's to White's Mill was a through road
continuing on towards Trap on the other side. I would
think of an avenue as a lane that just led up to a
house, but then what do I know? Isn't it amazing that
apparently the Waltons lived that close but that this
knowledge was completely lost to later generations of
the family? A suggestion: perhaps Magnolia Grove, the
Simmons place, was originally the Walton place. The
land could have gone from the Luther Brown lane or
from that other road running towards Trap all the way
back up to Pine Tree. Incidentally, there is a Civil
War map of the area showing all of the houses labeled
with the owner's names. I don't recall there was
anything on the south side of that road running from
Powellsville to Pine Tree. These tracts were probably
continuations of the Sessoms and Perry holdings on the
north side of the road. For example, I think I
remember Harold Sessoms saying that his grandfather
originally owned property on the other side of the
road from his house. Funny that you mentioned about
the line being changed, because I now recall Harold Sessoms saying something about that. Also, I think
that there may be a note about this somewhere in
Winborne's history. The county line today is next to
Carl Brown's brick house a good little ways before
Pine Tree and Magnolia Grove. James
Abstract of Bertie co Deed
Thomas Garratt of Chowan Co. to Timothy Walton of Bertie Co. 11 Nov
1775. 100£ 700 acres (Part in Bertie Co and Part in Hertford Co), joining
Meadow Branch, Josiah Perry, James Jones, Rivats, Long Branch, Lewis
Williams, the road, Barbique Swamp. Wit: Starkey Sharp, Josiah Perry.
Nov. Ct. 1775. John Johnston CJC
L-2-332 James Boon Wynns planter of Bertie Co to Thomas Garrett
Sr. of Chowan Co. 6 Mar 1771 70£ proclamation. 700 acres in Bertie &
Hertford counties, joining Meadow Branch, Josiah Perry, James Jones, Rivats,
Long Branch, Lewis Williams, Barbeque Swamp. Wit: W P Kippax, Richd. Garret,
James Garrett. Proved at Edenton 30 Apr 1771 bef. M Howard CJ
H-309 Burrill Bell & wife Sarah to Daniel VanPelt Feb 18
1756. 20£ for 157 A. adj. James Jones & Thomas Sissons, Peter Evans, John
Davidson, John Smith on Chinkopen Swamp. Wit: John VanPelt, Mary Ann Wynns, July
Court 1756. Benj. Wynns C/C
H-354 Burrill Bell & wife Sarah to James Boone Wynns Oct 25
1756. 200£ for 7713 A. (1) 5480 A. between Chowan River and Chinkopen Creek
"being a tract granted Col. William Maule which said land descended to
Penelope Cathcart wife of Doctor Wm. Cathcart who was daughter and sole heiress
to the said Col. Wm. Maule.....and by do. William Cathcart and Penelope his wife
conveyed to John Wynns...." (Sept. 20 1742.) John Wynns by last will and
testament gave to his wife, Sarah, now wife of said Burrill Bell. (2) 380 A.
conveyed to John Wynns by James Castellaw, the Public Treasurer at sale March 9,
1745. And to Sarah Wynns by will. (3) 640 A. conveyed to John Wynns by Treddle
Keele (Keefe) Aug 4, 1738 and by Wynns devised to his wife. (4) 253 A. Patented
by Benjamin Holloman April 20 1745 and assigned Feb 9 1750 to John Wynns. (5)
320 A. patent to Coll. William Maule for 640 A. Feb 1, 1725 and endorsed by
William Cathcart & wife Penelope Maule Cathcart Aug. 24 1748 to John
Devereaux and John Wynns. Wit: Joseph Perry, Benj. Brown. Oct. Ct 1756.
H-65 Burwell Bell & wife Sarah to Richard Rayner June
20, 1753. 20£ for 200 acres land on ES Chinkapin Swamp adj. William Tyner, John
Freeman. Wit: George Barlow, Joseph Boons, ---- Wynns, May Ct. 1754.
H-92 Bridgett Folkes to John Rainer Nov 12 1753 7£ for 150 A.
Part of a tract bought of John Perry containing 300 A. on Barbeque Swamp Wit:
James Droughhan, John Droughan, James Holey. May Ct 1754
G-387 Richard Brown to Thomas Sison (Sisson) June 22 1751 45£
for 100 A. in Chinkepen Neck adj. Isaac Hill Wit: Peggy Wynns, Benjamin Wynns
Aug Ct 1751
M-196 James Jones of Hertford Co to John Ramsy of Bertie Co. 6 May 1775.
25£ proclamation 100 acres joining Barbeque Swamp, Pigpen Branch, Reedy
Branch. Wit: Henry Lightfoot, Timothy Walton, James Wiggans. May Ct
1775. John Johnston CJC
Grist Mills [Water Mills]
old Gristmill in the Smokey Mt. Nat Park and Sally 1958
photo by Bob Koestler
One of the earliest
scenes in my memory is being in the corn barn where we all are preparing
corn to be taken to Mr. Wynns' little grist mill in Powellsville to be
ground into meal. The barn is piled high with the corn, and there are yet a
couple of the large hickory baskets of yesterday being utilized. The corn
was first shucked and removed from the cob by hand and then carried to
the mill in a flour bag. [That mill happened to be powered by a gasoline
motor but the earlier ones were all turned by water wheels.] The
accompanying mill pond afforded great recreational opportunities to the
community -- fishing, wading, and swimming in the old mill holes continued
long years after the mills themselves had disappeared. At the little
mill pond, a few yards from our grandmother Parker's home at Sarem in
Gates County we and our cousins wiled many a day as children.
to the Mill" by Julia Godwin Moore [Lawrence]
Boone's Mill House - Boone's Mill Pond, Jackson, NC
photos from "Footprints in Northampton"
Aug Bertie Ct 1732 - The Petition of John VanPelt Praying leave
to Build a Grist Mill Upon Barbeque Swamp a Branch of Chickapin on the Land of
John Parker & Wm Badham: wither most Convenient read & refd.
Nov Ct 1732 The Petn of John Van Pelt contd.
Feb Ct 1732 A deed of sale from John Willson to John VanPelt was ackd.
Nov Ct 1733 John Sweany to John VanPelt & J. Wynns Jurat.
Feb Ct 1733  John Willson to John VanPelt Senr. was proved by
Jurat John Wynns.
Aug 1736 Upon Petn. of John VanPelt praying leave to Build a Grist Water Mill on
Barbeque Swamp on the Land of Wn. Badham & John Early Ordered that the sd.
Badham & John Earley have Notice according to Law.
Aug 1736 - Read this day the Petn. of Sundry Inhabitants about Looseing
Swamp & Chinckapen Creek Granted &c Ordd that John Wynns, John VanPelt,
Ffras. Brown, John Mitchell, Jer. Maglohon, Nichs. Sessums, Fras. McClendon,
Sol. Alston, Tred. Keefe, John Keefe, Allexr. Vollantin, John Smith, Geo. Smith,
Isaac Hill, Wm. Bush, Jos: Watsford do lay out sd. Road according to law. John
VanPelt overseer & to have Jer: Maglohons & John Wynns companys to clear
the sd. Road & build the sd. Bridge (Including his own hands who are exempt
from working on Chinckapin Road.
Nov 1736 - Fras Brown overseer of Chinckapen Bridge &c in the room of
John VanPelt for ye Ensueing 3 months.
Feb 1736  - Ffras Browne overseer of the new road & Bridge &
to keeps fferrey & to have all the Western Inhabitants of John Wynns company
including Thos. Johnson & Henry Vollantine & John VanPelt.
Aug 1739 - Jno VanPelt to Jacob VanPelt a deed ackd.
F-480 Dom Rex to John VanPelt Grant 150 A. ..."grant as of
Our Manner of East Greenwich in Our County of Kent..." Yearly rent of 4 sh/100
A. Land on NS Barbeque Swamp adj. Thomas McClendon. Signed Gabriel Johnston,
Capt. General & Gov. in Chief at Edenton March 11, 1741. John Rice, Gov.
F-482 John VanPelt to Elias Stallings, Yeoman June 11, 1742.
400£ for 150 A. within mentioned patent. Wit: Daniel VanPelt, Mary VanPelt. Aug
Ct. 1743. (Is this 400 an error!?)
G-119 Thomas Parker, wheelwright to John Freeman, wheelwright
Feb 24 1747/48 25£ for 150 acres on NS Barbeque Swamp adj Thomas McClendons
former line. Also a Grist Water Mill on Barbeque Swamp Also an acre on SS
Barbeque Swamp "which said mill Thos. Parker & John Freeman bought of
Elias Stallings...." Wit: Benjamin Wynns, Richard Brown May Ct 1748 John
G-196 John Freeman to Thomas Freeman Aug 4 1748 50£ for 150 A +
one water grist mill. On NS Barbeque adj. Thomas McClendon, __ Green "..as
by plans thereof Dated 10th day of Aug 1745..." Wit: Peggy Wynns, Benjamin
Wynns, May Ct 1749
G-232 Thomas Freeman to John Reed Oct 8, 1749 50£ for 151 A.
"....one messuage or tract of land with a grinding mill upon it & all
that belongs to the said mill..." On Barbeque Swamp adj. Thomas McClindon,
___ Green at Chinkapin Fork Wit: John Smith, William Colthred Nov Ct John Lovick
G-413 John Reed to Thomas Green April 11, 1751 40£ for 150 A.
"...one messuage or tract of land with a Grist Mill thereon..." on WS
Barbeque Swamp adj. Thomas Mclendal. Wit: Henry Reed, Thomas Green, John Smith
Nov Ct 1751 Samuel Ormes
One other tidbit, I noticed Garretts intermarried with
the Perrys. Garrett's Mill was a tiny grist mill just
off of the road that went from the Bethlehem to Powellsville road over to the
Powellsville to Colerain road. I'm talking about the
road that starts just before the Byrd Nest and where
the Belches and some of the Hudsons lived. This road
crosses a small stream. Civil War maps show a
millpond just off to the right - if you're headed
towards the Ward place. Granddaddy told me that this
run originally had four mills on it: Garrett's Mill,
Green's Mill, White's Mill and then the Big Mill I
alluded to yesterday. He said they had a lot of rain
one spring or summer. This caused a freshet at
Garrett's which broke the dam. This started a chain
reaction which broke the dams all the way down the
stream. None of the mills was ever repaired.
White's Mill was up that road that ran between Mr.
Brown's house and barn lot. Brown as in Carl and
Arthur. Can't remember his name. Anyway, Granddaddy
took me back there once and the milldam was still
quite evident. I don't know where Green's Mill was. Possibly it was reached from The Trap side.
Barbecue Swamp must be the run with the four mills on it leading down to Chinqapin Creek
at Pitch Landing. I think part of what is being alluded to in these petitions are the millpond rights. Granddaddy used to talk about these. Millpond rights
were basically damages paid to other landowners whose lands went underwater when a mill dam was constructed.
Feb Ct 1775:
Exhibited the Petition of Benjamin Brown praying leave to build a Water
Grist Mill on Barbaque Swamp which is ordered to be laid over till next
Court and it is further ordered that Josiah Perry, Watkin Williams Wynn,
Thos Ward and James Holly Junr be appointed to lay off view and value
one acre of Land on the opposite side of the Swamp the property of
Timothy Walton and that the said Timothy Walton be summoned etc.
Exhibited the Petition of Timothy Walton praying leave to Build a
publick Water Grist Mill on Barbeque Swamp and that the flowering
freeholders be appointed to view and value one acre of Land the property
of John Ramsay on the opposite side of the Swamp (to wit) Josiah Perry,
Joshua Freeman, Nathaniel Holly & Jesse Garret and that a Summons Issue
to John Ramsay the proprietor of the Land on the opposite side of the
Swamp to appear at next Court and Shew cause etc.
The Sessoms Places
Another mill was on the road from the Col. William
Jones place out to Highland Memorial Gardens on Stoney
Creek. It was at that branch with the bend in the
road just below Wig's house. This was run by William Sessoms, whose house was also in that area. This
explains why the Sessoms cemetery is down there. He
married a Miss Van Pelt and they were the parents of
Daniel Van Pelt Sessoms, who bought and enlarged the
Col. William Jones place; William Wynn Sessoms, who
lived at Pine Tree and Dr. Harrell Bell Sessoms, who
lived on the land where his son Dr. Joseph W. Sessoms
later built Sunnyside Acres (Leigh Sessoms house).
Jones-Daniel VanPelt Sessoms Home
photos by James Moore ca 1970
Billy Raynor of Ahoskie says the house is "Tydewater
Col Jones's widow and children sold the house and farm to VanPelt Sessoms in
1828 and removed to Haywood County, TN. The large marble monument on
Col. Jones's grave placed there by his widow and children has vanished
sometime since 1960.
Sessoms Home/ Roberson place
photos by James Moore ca 1970
I remember Johnnie Roberson removed the cemetery stones and plowed over the
graves that were located near this house ca 1950. My father said that
was the old Van Pelt Cemetery.
The Perry Place and
This house located between the W.W. Sessoms house and the Leigh
Sessoms house, although recently bulldozed, was very similar to the
James Ward home I am always told. The cemetery
minus its wrought iron fence is still apparent with some stones tumbled
into the graves. This may have been the home of Josiah Perry 1740-1820
and his wife Amilicent Freeman. It was the home of Freeman Perry ca 1781 and
his wife Patty Simons. Also the home of Joseph J. Perry 1817-1882 and his wife
Mary E. Sessoms 1825-1879. By the turn of the twentieth century I
understand that Charles Arthur Parker,
the grand-father of Dell Holloman was living there.
Leigh Sessoms Home
was called Sunnyside Acres
photos by James Moore ca 1970
Harold Sessoms of Ahoskie told me that his name was a
corruption of the original Harrell. This Dr. Harrell
Sessoms he said had a house between the Leigh Sessoms
house and Moore's Lane. Dr. Sessoms died young and his
son and daughter were raised by Van Pelt Sessoms. The
house burned. He said you could see the wells out in
the field when he was a boy. Therefore, Dr. Joseph W. Sessoms
built Sunnyside when he married Nannie Underwood in
Another Sessoms seat was at Stoney Creek where the
Powellsville town cemetery is located. This is where
Uncle Elisha Sessoms (Eunice's father) was raised.
There was a house and cemetery there which seems to
have simply been abandoned. I could never understand
this. Perhaps Buelah Shanks has some more info on it. Uncle Lish after his marriage seems to have always
lived on the other side of the creek at the house where Hazel and Otis ended up when they retired and at
a house-now gone- on Church Street in Ahoskie. I
think Uncle Lish's forebears come down from a brother
or cousin of the William Sessoms who married Miss Van
Pelt. As this Sessoms house was right there on the
creek, it makes one wonder if it was contemporary with
the original Jones foundation down at Jones Hole. James
Our Neighbors for 200 years, the Sessoms of Hertford County:
The land was covered primarily with long leaf pine trees. James Jones and his friends
were attracted to the area not only by the available land but by the naval stores
industry. Because of their importance to the maritime industry, tar, pitch, and the crude
resin or turpentine that produced them came to be known as "naval stores." To
acquire raw turpentine (resin) colonists used at least two techniques. During the off
season (winter) people would go into the pine forests to cut two or more deep grooves in a
standing tree so that the cuts converged near the base, where they installed several
planks to act as a trough for the resin. The second, more common method was cutting large
rectangular notches, called "boxes" on both sides of larger long leaf pines. The
sap collected on the flat bottom edge on the box, where as John Brickell noted, "the
Negroes with Ladles take it out and put it into Barrels."
(Barrel making was a major
occupation for many. A number of my ancestors listed their profession as Cooper.) My
father pointed out to me on the ground impressions of ancient tar "kilns."
"Colonists sought a slightly elevated mound or knoll on which they dug a circular
pit. Four to six feet away, they scooped out another shallower depression connected to the
first by a narrow ditch. Known as a kiln, the entire structure was lined with clay to
facilitate the flow of tar. During winter colonists went into the pine forest to gather
dead dry pine boughs called lightwood. They placed the wood in the pit and covered it with
clay or sod, leaving small openings near the bottom of the woodpile. The
"tarburners" then set the highly volatile wood on fire, but because the holes at
the base of the kiln afforded only a slight draft, the pile smoldered for weeks. They
tended the kilns constantly making sure the fire did not go out or burn too hot.
produces by the slow combustion, collected at the center of the pit and flowed through the
ditch to the receptacle where it could be ladled into barrels for export." Because
colonists preferred dry light wood for the kilns, they did not need to cut living trees to
feed the furnaces. John Brickell reported that colonists often sent their slaves into
abandoned turpentine orchards to split those dead and dying trees into usuable lightwood.
Likewise, smaller branches and residue from pines cut for lumber and those toppled by wind
or ice could be salvaged for the kilns.
Settlers were camping out, not always on their own land, making naval stores. Pitch
Landing was a center from which the naval stores were shipped in small boats. The barrels
of raw sap were shipped to England for distillation. Production of navel stores was the
main industry of the area throughout the entire colonial period and during much of the
first half of the 19th century.
(Ref: Timothy Silvers A New
Face on the Countryside 1990 & Parker Bros. "Hertford County
09 April 2012