3 Factors That Are Essential To A Good Painting

It takes a lot to make a good painting – good composition, good layering, clear focal points, deliberate brush strokes etc. But there are three things that are essential to all successful paintings and we will discuss them in detail in this article. It is not just a matter of recreation in a painting but the forte of a successful artist lies in how they are able to make a good painting of a model or element with the materials they have in hand. All of this will come with years of experience and practise but the development can only happen when you start practising from now on. Now since you are already thinking of what those three factors could be that are essential to a good painting, here they are:

  1. Good Focal Point

The focal point is the prime focus of a painting. It could be in a bold form or subtle form, it could be in any size or could take any shape. The choice of colours in a focal point depends entirely on you and the composition of the painting. The focal points of the painting should express the story of the painting. Everything else in the painting will only help in weaving that story. The focal points in your painting should be able to engage the viewers in your painting.

  1. Layering

The colours in your painting can do nothing much if you do not know how to layer them well. The passage from one colour to another should be smooth and should have a realistic touch to it. When we talk about colours, it is that one factor that gives the right feel to the painting. Whether you are looking to give a dramatic feel to it, or a vibrant feel, or a subtle feel or tranquil feel to it – it is solely dependent on the colours you choose. This is the reason why the build-up of colours in the painting should be like a passage where one colour passes over to another in a smooth way.

  1. Direction Of Strokes

Time and over again we emphasise the importance of brushstrokes in a painting. The direction of your brushstrokes speaks volumes about your experience and expertise as an artist. An amateur would stroke the brush on whichever direction he wants which is why he is an amateur but a professional will always render realistic touch to a painting by controlling the direction of strokes in such a way that the brushstrokes are clearly visible.

The way you move your brush around the canvas gives out a statement to the viewers. And if you are doing it in the right way, it will be to your advantage. Be mindful that you don’t stroke in every direction you feel like but keep the angles in mind when you are working your brushes on the canvas.

These three essential factors are used by all professional artists during their artwork which is why their paintings stand out from the rest. The fourth essential which I haven’t told you is Practice, which is a common sense. We cannot be a great artist with practice. Try to make some painting from your friend photo or your home, it will tell you what are the points you should be focus on.

It does not matter if you get the best of painting materials for your work but if you do not know the techniques right and are unsure about how to execute it, nothing will fall in place.

Keep these factors in mind when you paint next and develop the painting in such a way that they fall in place. You will witness the effect of it in the final result. Tell the best story through your artwork and when a viewer understands that story don’t forget to ask them why. Happy Painting!

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Allen’s Settlement

As early as the mid-1700’s, Allen’s Settlement referred to the community that developed behind the protective river bluffs in what is now the Town of Jonesville. Readers must remember, Elkin would develop as a community from Richard Gwyn’s plantation after 1840. There was little more than wilderness between Allen’s Settlement and Salem Colony and the area that would become Wilkesboro …

It was into Allen’s Settlement that patriots from Salem and eastern Virginia marched, en route to joining Tennesseean mountain men in Morganton. Allen’s Settlement and David Allen, in particular, played critical roles in the Battle of King’s Mountain and later battles in the American Revolution. Both David Allen Senior and David Allen Junior were wounded in the Revolutionary War. Young David may have been wounded at King’s Mountain, serving under his brother Captain Adoniram Allen. The elder Allen may have been injured in a later battle while transporting provisions to eastern North Carolina.

Soelle’s Assumption about Allen’s Settlement

In September 1771, George Soelle, an early Moravian minister, made a trip to a squatter’s home in Allen’s Settlement. He observed, “The settlers here are all Irish, a robbed and plundered people, where poverty makes itself at home … My host received me gladly and cared for me as well as he could; milk and cornbread was the fare practically all the time I was there, and not enough of that.” [From the Moravian Records] Recorded in Pascal’s History of North Carolina Baptists: John Pipes invited Moravian missionary, George Soelle, to visit Baptists east of the Yadkin.

Whether or not the Pipe’s home (as a squatter and not a landowner) was indicative of all other settlers’ homes is speculative at best, but one may assume that most early settlers had sufficient provisions to purchase land, to plant crops, to feed their families and to entertain guests — especially visiting ministers.

Yet Soelle’s unflattering assumption will rear it’s head repeatedly in the years to come …..

This description of early settlers may be more accurate:

The Scotch-Irish are stern and virile, noted for hatred of sham, hypocrisy and oppression. the Germans are hardy and thrifty, characterized by love of home and country, tenacious of custom and slow to change. Both were a liberty-loving, God-fearing people, among whom labor was dignified and honorable. A charm about these pioneers is, that their heads were not turned by ancestral distinction. They were self-reliant and mastered the primeval forest, with its hardships and disadvantages. they became adept in handicraft and combated the foes of husbandry in and unsettled region. They were silent heroes who shaped destiny and imbued unborn generations with strength of character and force of will. The early Scotch-Irish preachers taught the creed of Calvin and Knox, and the first place of worship on the east side was Presbyterian. The pioneer Germans were followers of the great central figure of the Reformation, Martin Luther, and the Swiss Reformer, Ulrick Zwingle, and the oldest place of worship on the west side is Lutheran and Reformed.

But back to the development of Allen’s Settlement and Allen’s Iron Works.

As early as 1751, David Allen was involved in a recorded land sale with Allen Gentry. Readers should note that the date on which a land sale is recorded may not accurately indicate when the land was first “claimed” by the purchaser. Recording land ownership required a fee plus the purchase of the land. Early settlers did not often have the money to record land purchases.

Over twenty years later in 1772, Surry County approved 12 men “to lay out a road from Joseph Gentry’s Ferry on So. side River to Fox Knobbs leading to Allens Iron Works [at the Wilkes Co. line] and on No. side to [Moravian settlement of] Salem etc. ”

Iron manufacturing involved operations of different scales — bloomery forges and furnaces.

These small bloomery forges used charcoal and hardwoods, anvils and hammers to produce tools, hollow ware (kettles, pots, etc.), iron bars, nails, wagon wheel rims and other items (such as cannon balls and smaller ammunition). The average early blast furnace produced up to two tons of iron a day, using about 300 acres of hardwoods each year. By 1810, there were 11 forges in the Blue Ridge Mountains — five in Surry County and six in Buncombe County. The peak of iron production in antebellum North Carolina was 1830. The iron works around the state made 1800 tons of pig iron.

Furnaces such as Allen’s on the Big Elkin Creek “were usually constructed on large streams or rivers at points where the water flowed swiftly over abrupt changes in elevation, forming rapids or waterfalls or what were commonly known as mill seats. At these locations, dams were constructed to harness the power of the falling water. Waterpower was needed to turn large water wheels, which in turn supplied power to various pieces of equipment such as bellows and hammers. The bellows were quite large and blew air into the base of the furnace to increase the rate of combustion, so the iron ore and limestone would get hot enough to melt. The use of these bellows led to the term “blast furnace.” Furnaces were also built next to steep banks so that ramps could be erected from the bank to the top of the furnace to assist in the process of loading the furnace. The iron ore, limestone, and charcoal were carried over these ramps and fed into openings in the top of the furnace.”

The State’s Support of the Iron Industry

In 1781, the State approved exempting “Twelve hands which may be employed in that business by David Allen and Company for six or Twelve Months, as they shall think proper, from all Drafts, from all Military Duty, provided such hands enter into that business for six Months at least, and shall continue exempted as aforesaid so long as they shall continue in that services. ”

The North Carolina General Assembly subsequently passed an act in 1788 “to encourage the building of Iron Works in the State.” This act enabled a person to claim three thousand acres of land found unfit for cultivation. It also required the production of five thousand pounds of iron within a period of three years.

Iron Industry

Decline of the Iron Production Industry

One reason for the decline in iron production was improving transportation by steamers in the 1830s, followed by railroads opening in the 1840s and 1850s. Transportation obstacles had allowed the domestic industry to grow in North Carolina, but the state iron works couldn’t match the increasing output from Pennsylvania and other states, especially with their access to coal to power their furnaces. But even in 1860, there were 49 iron works in North Carolina.

After the Civil War, the suppressed economy in the South, coupled with depleted natural resources, brought about the industry’s fate. Also, the lack of significant improvements in transportation, and the development of more efficient methods of producing iron in the North did not help. Other factors leading to the decline of the charcoal iron industry in North Carolina included labor problems, due to the collapse of the slave-based economy, and the inability to compete with ironworks in other regions with better quality resources and cheaper production costs due to the availability of coal.

Clisby Cobb

Could the demise of Allen’s Iron Works also be associated with the arrival of Clisby Cobb?

Soon after the end of the Revolutionary War, an injured David Allen sold his ironworks to William Hill in 1786 and left for Georgia (see family history below). Concurrently, Clisby Cobb was released from military duty to work as ironmaster at Allen’s … We do not know how long Hill owned or operated the iron works.

We know from Cobb’s history that upon arrival in Allen’s Settlement, he began to amass land in several counties, finally moving to the Catawba River region where he built at least two iron forges.

David Allen and Early Jonesville

David Allen also was related to founding fathers in Jonesville.

“Mary (CODY? Combs? RIDGE? STACY?), the widow of both David ALLEN (of the Iron Works), and David MARTIN, and mother of Salathiel and Obediah MARTIN (relationship to Sally MARTIN Lewis, if any, unknown) m 3rd Jonathan HAINES. David ALLEN may have been (somehow) kin to Nathaniel ALLIN, 2nd h/o Winnifred Combs, widow of Tory William RIDGE.”

In other transactions from the same reference, David Allen extends his claim to property and access surrounding his Iron Works:

Feb 1772 (NC State Library and Archives. CR092.925.5. Surry Co., NC Road Records 1772-1879. Folder: 1772-1799). Surry County. Feb’y Court 1772. Ordered that the following jury to wit: Samuel RIGGS, David RIGGS, Abrael COBBS, Reuben RIGGS, Admirum ALLEN, Joseph GRAVES, William NALL, John HARDY, John PARKS, David MARTIN, Charles DODSON & Peter GREENSTREAT lay off a road the best & most convenient way from Thomas JONES at Long Bottom on Roaring River to David ALLINS & make return thereof to the next court. A Copy Test. Jesse BENTON, Ck. Ct. (Transcribed by Combs-Cody Researcher George Baumbach) 20 Sep 1779 (Surry NC DBA:346) NC Grant David ALLEN 5 A adj. certain Iron Mine Pitt near Thomas YATES’ at William ISAACS. (Surry County, North Carolina Abstracts, Deed Books A, B, and C (1770-1788), by Mrs. W.O. Absher, SHP, Easley, SC, 1981) 24 Oct 1782 (Surry NC DB:214) 24 Oct 1782 NC Grant David ALLEN 640 A Big Elkin Creek, branch of Yadkin River, mouth Big Elkin at dividing line between Surry and Wilkes Co; agrees line with William CARREL. (Surry County, North Carolina Abstracts, Deed Books A, B, and C (1770-1788), by Mrs. W.O. Absher, SHP, Easley, SC, 1981) 24 Oct 1782 (Surry NC DB:215) 24 Oct 1782 NC Grant David ALLEN 640 A Big Elkin Creek adj. Salathiel MARTIN & Wright DANIEL; N side Big Elkin below Iron Works (Surry County, North Carolina Abstracts, Deed Books A, B, and C (1770-1788), by Mrs. W.O. Absher, SHP, Easley, SC, 1981)

[Contrary to Soelle’s assumption] We can assume that living in Allen’s Settlement was no different than life in other early settlements. According to the collected genealogy of the Allen family, David Senior and David Junior were extraordinary men who not only prospered in their business but served nobly in the Revolutionary War.

The David Allen Family

This is from the third generation of the Edward Allen family:

DAVID ALLEN, SR. (DAVID2 ALLEN, EDWARD “EDMOND”1) was born 9 February 1712/13 in Suffield, CT. He married ANNA ALLEN.

Children of DAVID ALLEN, SR. and ANNA ALLEN are: i. BENJAMIN4 ALLEN. ii. JONATHAN ALLEN. 4. iii. ADONIRAM (TEGES), CAPT. ALLEN, b. 1734, NH, near the Vermont state line.; d. 1838, Laurel Point Cemetery, Clay Co., KY. iv. DAVID ALLEN, JR., b. 1761, Elizabethtown, NJ. Notes for DAVID ALLEN, JR.:

David was born in Elizabethtown, NJ in 1761. He moved from NJ as a child with his father, David Allen, Sr. to Surrey Co., NC. He resided in Surrey Co. prior to the Revolution and served in the Revolution from aid county. He served und er his brother, Adoniram Allen, at the Battle of Kings Mountain. David was wounded at Kings Mountain, but remained in service until Cornwallis was taken. He served eighteen months. After the Revolution, he returned to Surrey Co. and then David moved to Georgia.

David Senior is said to have moved from Georgia to Davidson Co., TN. One letter says he married circa 1780 and that she died about 1841 in Lowndes Co., MS . Next residence was between the Franklin Co. line and the Chickasaw nation. Letter says John L. Allen was a sub-agent of the Chicasaw Nation. then moved t o Lowndes Co., MS with his son, where he lived until his son’s wife died. He moved back to Alabama. Last pension payment was made period from Sept. 4, 1841 to March 4, 1842 at Huntsville, Alabama. Revolutionary War Certificate #6757.

[Refer to the Soelle assumption above and note the presumptions.] The family of David and Anna are living among the Moravians in NC, (Records of the Moravians). In the part of Surrey Co. that becomes Stokes. They were d oing a lot of building in Salem. The boards came from David’s saw-mill. Board s had to be hauled from the Landing Place on the Yadkin to Salem. March 4, 1769, wagons went to the Yadkin for boards for Salem. They had been cut at Mr. Allen’s saw mill, and floated down to Isaac Ferry’s Landing, but could not be hauled out across a field until the corn on it was ripe. In Allen settlement, the settlers were all Irish, a robed and plundered people, where peverty makes its elf at home. Milk and cornbread was the food practically all the time and not enough of that, for they are a fair skin people, to whom no one went, and it was more than 60 miles to the Yadkin. The Scots-Irish were temperament clannish, contentious, hard to get along with, well set in their ways. the prayer attrib uted to them was: “Lord, grant that I may always be right, for Thou knowest I am hard to turn.” Their thrift was proverbial. It has been said that the Scot s-Irish kept the Commandments of God — and everything else they could get their hands on.

August 1775, David Sr. spent five days hauling provisions and baggage for the Regulars on their expedition to Cross Creek at 15 provisions per day. By hauling provisions and baggage for Captain Walton’s company of Minute men when disarming Tories and on expedition to Cross Creek and conduction prisioners to Hillsboro on Dec 7, 1780. The last time older David is heard of; “Mr. Allen visited us this morning for the first and last time since he had been under treatment. In leaving, he expressed regrets that he had not been with us more often, Next day he left for home in a wagon brought by one of his sons.” Taken from Rowan Co., NCCourt Minutes.

Abstract of January 16, 1769 – Road Jury to lay out a road from Mr. David Allen’s Mill on the Great El kin along the East side of the Yadkin River to John Shoode Gentry above the Mor avian Town. Feb. 4, 1771, Road Jury lay out a road from Joseph Gentrue Fery on the South side of Yadkin River to Fox Knobbs leading to Allen’s Iron Works and on the North side to Salem.

There was a Gersham Allen in the first tax list s if Surrey Co. the older David Allen could easily have belonged to the Gersham set of Allen. The elder David Allen was wounded at Bethania in the Battle of Kings Mountain in North Carolina on Oct. 7, 1780 while taking provisions up mo untain to troops. Son, Adoniram Allen, might have stayed longer in New Jersey since his name didn’t appear on North Carolia tax lists until 1771. Adoniram paid for two – could be he married around this time (age was then 37 years). David served under his brother as a private in NC. Troops Lt. Adoniram Allen, Col. Martin Armstrong, Joel Lewis, Malmedy, Benjamin Cleveland and Micajoan Lewis was engaged in battles at Moores Creek Bridge, Sunb

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History and Heritage

Jonesville, NC: History and Heritage

From its origins in the mid-1700’s, the town that is now Jonesville was one of the largest settlements west of Raleigh. The area was initially called Allen’s Settlement, presumably for David Allen (and a son by the same name), who owned a bloomery forge (one method for processing iron ore) on the Big Elkin Creek.

Fred Hughes’ 1977 Land Grant map indicates that Allen’s forge was supplied ore from an extended area that included the Brushy Mountain range to Fox Knob (now called Star Peak — for which Yadkin County’s Starmount High School is named) to across the Yadkin River (either by ferry or at the Old Ford near the Indian Fish Trap), up the Big Elkin Creek to contemporary West Elkin and Pleasant Hill and into the mountainous woodlands later named Wilkes County.

Ore mines or “pits” are still found within the Town of Jonesville, especially adjacent to West Main Street, which was then called Iron Works Road. Near the River, Iron Works Road forked left to the Ford Road which trailed Mineral Spring Branch to the shallows across the River at the Indian Fish Trap. Until a ferry was built near the mouth of the Big Elkin Creek, ore-laden wagons and travelers crossed the Yadkin at the shallows.

Readers may want to locate the site of Allen’s Iron Works or the Jonesville ferry or the Old Ford Road between Jonesville and Elkin. It may be possible to identify the routes visually or with scanning equipment, but don’t expect to find accurate references on early maps. As found at the Island Ford Ferry site, remnants of ferry cables near the Big Elkin Creek will someday be found. A section of the Old Ford Road is preserved in Mineral Spring Park … But unless the county or state specifically authorized a ferry or road, or an early cartographer witnessed it, the attribute may not appear on early maps.

History relies on what is written, what is said and what is preserved — which includes public records, personal letters, journals, oral accounts, and artifacts. Critical companions to history are heritage — i.e., the customs, values, legacy or cultural traditions associated with a region — and humanity, a respect for the common bond between all humans. One of our region’s primary sources of historic discovery is Moravian journals and documents — of which thousands are yet to be translated.

In journals, we have one person’s interpretation of their observations and experiences. For example, we will later introduce a journal of one local family’s work with the “Underground Railroad” (an unlawful and secret network of people who aided fugitive slaves) through Jonesville to “stations” along the route to freedom. Did the journal present an accurate reflection of events and perspectives in the early and mid-1800’s?

This writer attempted to validate claims made in the journal by reviewing public records, other letters and journals, interviews, local topography, alleged escape routes and regional history. Did an Underground Railroad most likely run through Jonesville? Yes. Will others be as convinced? Most will; some will not … Why? Because when the topic is as emotionally charged as is the topic of slavery, what is accepted as highly probable and likely true must also be affirmed by a sense of humanity and heritage.


But back to the subject of Allen’s Settlement …

For clarity, let’s look at the operational word “settlement. A settlement is a gathering of homes and families … a small community ….” The settlement of Allen’s was established behind the protective bluffs that once stood on the south bank of the Yadkin, above contemporary McNeill Bridge at the junction of Elm Street – West Main Street and River Road. We know that businesses developed eastward, toward the center of the original town, along the Mineral Spring Branch (note locations of the Tannery, the Academy and the Soap Factory), away from the River, up Iron Works Road — to an extended “Town Square” that included the Benham Hotel, Thompson’s Store (and later Fletcher McBride’s), the Van Eaton and Hunt-Thompson homes, Hardy Jones’ home, the Tobacco Factory, the old Post Office, Swaim Oil Company, the Pepsi Distribution Center and later the Town Hall.

Early circuit riders and Moravian clergy who came to Allen’s (per journal entries), described the Settlement and homesteads on the south bank of the Yadkin. Many traveled up the River from Salem (approximating the route of current highway 67) to Allen’s. When referencing services at Michael Bacon’s Brush Arbor and meeting house, located at the confluence of Beaverdam and Cobb Creeks (to be described later), early ministers also traveled either of two early routes from eastern North Carolina: The Old Salisbury or the Old Hamptonville Roads. Early travelers from the west may have followed the Yadkin or one of the larger streams or possibly taken the Old Wilkes Road along the Yadkin’s south bank to enter the Settlement. In addition to the common trail-ways cleared by early settlers and wagon trains, less-traveled wilderness paths were often used by hunters, trappers or area farmers who came into Allen’s to trade.

Allen’s Settlement and early Jonesville were surrounded by wilderness, small isolated farms, and an occasional plantation. Surry County included Wilkes and Yadkin Counties and extended from the Virginia State line southward to the town of Winston and the Salem colony. Current towns such as Yadkinville, Boonville, and East Bend, etc., were identified on early maps and in documents as “meeting houses” or plantations — if they yet existed.

Although our histories overlap in many areas, the neighboring Town of Elkin did not develop until well after 1840 when a Jonesville businessman left to tend his expansive plantation on the north side of the River. Enterprising Richard Gwyn soon established grist and woolen mills on the Big Elkin Creek. From these ventures evolved the Town of Elkin and the famous Chatham Woolen Mill.

With an influx of strong business leaders and the arrival of the railroad, the Town, chartered in 1889, began to thrive, earning global prominence as a 20th-century textile center for technology, woolen products, blankets, and upholstery. Chatham Manufacturing Company provided the region and employee-families with numerous outreach services, including youth programs, scholarships, and recreational facilities — many of which continue to impact the contemporary Elkin-Jonesville community.

But even before Allen’s Settlement and early Jonesville, the Valley was home to native tribes …

Drawn to the fertile Yadkin River Valley, nomadic tribes and early settlers were especially aware of the protective river bluffs which harbored them from rising waters and potential marauders. Only one partial bluff now stands as a memorial to that era, and from its precipice over twenty historic sites are either nearby or can be seen. We’ll be discussing these sites later, but first, let’s consider the significance of the area in which our community is located.

click company 1989


Early settlers in the Yadkin Valley:

The Scotch-Irish are stern and virile, noted for hatred of sham, hypocrisy and oppression. the Germans are hardy and thrifty, characterized by love of home and country, tenacious of custom and slow to change. Both were a liberty-loving, God-fearing people, among whom labor was dignified and honorable. A charm about these pioneers is, that their heads were not turned by ancestral distinction. They were self-reliant and mastered the primeval forest, with its hardships and disadvantages. they became adept in handicraft and combated the foes of husbandry in and unsettled region. They were silent heroes who shaped destiny and imbued unborn generations with strength of character and force of will. — Nixon


History and Heritage continued: Early Life, Landmarks and Legends

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Clisby Cobb

Iron forges in the new country were insufficient to meet wartime demands; those with experience in mining and operating a forge were released from military service to operate the forges. The North Carolina General Assembly passed an act in 1788 “to encourage the building of Iron Works in the State.”


This act enabled a person to claim three thousand acres of land found unfit for cultivation. It also required the production of five thousand pounds of iron within a period of three years. During this period, Clisby Cobb of New Jersey was released from the military to work with David Allen in Allen’s Settlement. It was not long after the Revolution had ended, that Cobb was listed as a landowner in multiple counties (Lincoln, Catawba, Alleghany. Burke and Surry) and an ironworks in Burke County was initially called Cobb’s Iron Works.

As had been done in Surry and Wilkes to open roads to Allen’s Forge, a Burke County Court declared in 1793, “Road ordered to be laid off from Indian Gap, by Cobb’s Iron Works on Gunpowder Creek, to the Horse Ford, on Catawba River.” In 1804, Cobb was associated with the Jenny Lind Forge in Maiden. Although he died in 1815, Cobb’s grandson Madison Smith continued his grandfather’s trade and built Stonewall Furnace in Lincoln County on the Catawba River.

While land records in Surry and Yadkin have not been thoroughly researched, it may be likely that the Jonesville creek that allegedly bears Cobb’s name may also have been the site of another of his iron works or at best, a sawmill and grist mill.

NOTE: These structures are located on private land and are not accessible by public roads.

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The Iron Industry

What is Iron Ore and Why was it mined?

Here is an interesting summary of iron ore production in Maryland…..

Iron is a silvery-white, solid metal that commonly appears as a brown and sometimes nearly black oxide of iron. Its chemical symbol Fe, is derived from ferrum, the Latin word for iron. By volume, iron is the most abundant element, making up 34.6% of the earth.

The Iron Industry


To refine iron ore it is necessary to separate the physical and chemical impurities in the ore. Iron oxide is the main component of iron ore. By burning charcoal fuel, carbon monoxide gas is formed from the charcoal and iron oxide, which can react further to form carbon dioxide. When the carbon dioxide is released, iron (with some remaining impurities) is the result. Various processes were used to create iron: a simple forge, a bloomery forge or a blast furnace. Traditionally, four tons of ore can produce one ton of iron. The ore is dug out of a pit and then transported to a forge, where impurities are extracted, leaving the raw iron.

Because fire created from wood alone is not hot enough to melt the iron from the ore, charcoal was used as a fuel. Charcoal is partly burned wood produced by a smoldering process over a period of two weeks. Wood is stacked in a mound and covered, usually with turf to control the air supply and ensure that the wood does not catch fire. The chestnut trees were excellent sources of charcoal. Most of the region’s charcoal was created by “colliers” who moved about the country making use of resources where available.

Iron processing employs a simple forge that would resemble a backyard barbecue of today. The iron was heated and hammered by a smith to remove most of the impurities. Repeated heating and hammering resulted in a workable product. This method was time consuming and labor intensive. Mined ore was initially processed in a bloomery forge. As technology advanced, a blast furnace was developed. This advance in technology eliminated the need for alternate heating with hammering to pound out impurities, making this a more efficient method of production.

The final product was known as “Pig Iron”. This iron was heated and then formed by hammering, rolling or casting into items such as weapons, pots, nails. etc.

Why was there such a demand for iron?

The Great Northern War (1700-1721) between Sweden and Russia created a critical need for iron ore throughout Europe. England, a major importer of highly regarded Swedish iron was forced to look at its American colonies for its iron needs. As iron exports from Sweden slowed, the beginning of the English colonial iron industry can be traced to the creation of iron works on the Rappahannock River in Virginia in 1713. Iron quickly became a principal component of the early colonial economy. The iron industry was the basis for the wealth of the nation’s early leadership and the foundation of the new United States. George Washington’s family involvement in local iron mining provided some of the wealth to pursue other significant and profitable ventures.

In 1723 John England arrived in America and began operating the Principio Furnace in Cecil County, MD. The Principio venture was a very successful operation due in part to a corporate structure resembling one of a modern-day company. Among its board of directors were members of George Washington’s family. Also in 1723, Samuel James and investors built Abingdon Furnace with financial support from some of the leading iron masters in Pennsylvania. Lack of an economical supply of flux caused the operation to fail and the works were sold at sheriff’s sale in 1735. Others continued to mine ore, but, by the turn of the 20th century, the last of the proprietors ceased operations.

The iron forges in NC experienced similar fates.

Post-Civil War industrialism drastically changed the iron industry in the South. Ownership of ironworks operations before the Civil War centered on a singly owned plantation style management structure. After the war, many individual and family owned operations attempted to improve management and marketing by consolidating and incorporating. Advances made by charcoal fueled iron makers could not be met by iron operators in the South. North Carolina manufacturers could not build larger furnaces or a greater number of furnaces to match the production of the iron makers in the areas where there were abundant, high-grade coal resources.

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Early Landmarks, Legends and Inhabitants

Few landmarks are left from an early occupation by the Indian tribes that inhabited the Yadkin Valley or from the early European settlers who ventured up the Yadkin River beyond the Great Wagon Trail and the Indian Trading Trails. What we do have, though, are the Mineral Spring, where legends tell us that Indians carved a channel into the bedrock for the water to flow more easily. We have countless unnamed road beds which disappear into the woodlands or follow the creek and river banks north and south or trail into the creeks and river at points that were most likely fords or ferries … We have the remnants of a fish trap and our fields yield the arrowheads and stone implements of civilizations past … And unless we capture the essence of these landmarks, these relics, even the legends — their memories and historical significance will vanish — never to be replaced.

Once called the “Great Sapona” River, the Yadkin River and its valley was treasured by early inhabitants as a rich hunting ground. Our Mineral Spring may have gained its reputation as a 18th and 19th-century “healing spring” from early legends.

The first people came into the Yadkin Valley at least 12,000 years ago…that’s 6,000 years before the Egyptians started building their pyramids! And it’s about 11,500 years before the first Europeans set foot in what would one day be known as the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina, where you live today …..

During those thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived, Native American cultures slowly developed and adapted to changes in climate and the environment. Although today their technology might seem very crude and primitive to us, the simple tools invented by the earliest Americans was an important factor as well. The stages of the Native American culture are traditionally divided into 3 segments, or eras – Paleo-Indian, Archaic, and Woodland.

Yedkin River


The Region’s First Settlers

When settlers began to arrive in the early to mid-1700’s, they came from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia along the Great Road to the Yadkin Valley. They were of German, Scotch-Irish and English heritage, coming to the new land to escape the persecution and poverty they had known in Europe.

About the time the first European settlers arrived in the Yadkin Valley, there were no resident Native Americans. The Saura, Saponi, and Keyauwee had been absorbed into other tribes or had moved out of the area entirely, perhaps to avoid raiding parties from the tribes to the north. To testify to their 12,000 years of occupation, they left behind stone tools, projectile points, broken bits of pottery, and the graves of their dead. In the Yadkin Valley a single site was located that held stone tools and campfire remains from over a 10,000-year period. Excavation and analysis allowed construction of a detailed chronological progression in artifact styles. They also left behind their name for the river that had been a central element in their lives…the Yadkin.

The majority of the first settlers in the Yadkin Valley were not immigrants fresh from the old country… that group would come later. These first settlers were second and third generation colonists who knew what to expect and how to survive in a backwoods economy that demanded near complete self-sufficiency. That experience would prove invaluable, for the nearest towns and the “civilization” of the coastal areas were many days… or even weeks… away.

They generally planned their arrival for late fall or winter, bringing seed and food from the last harvest at their previous home. If all went as planned, the food would sustain them while they went about establishing themselves; for there was much to do… 

One of the first tasks was finding land. While land was readily available, the new settlers wished to find tracts of fertile soil with good water and few defects such as swamps or irregular ground.

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Native American Archaeology

Paleo-Indian Era – 10,000 B.C. to 8,000 B.C.

The Yadkin Valley today is very different from when the Paleo-Indians lived here. The world was nearing the end of the last great ice age. Although the giant glaciers never reached this far south, the climate here was much colder than it is now, sea levels were as much as 100 feet lower, and animal and plant life were quite different… more like that of modern-day northern Canada.

Although the Paleo-Indians lived in the Yadkin Valley for at least 2,000 years, we know very little about them. What we do know has been learned by studying their primitive stone tools and projectile points. Archaeologists have even studied discarded bones from the game they ate.

Adapting to the climate and the terrain of the late ice age, the Paleo-Indians lived a nomadic “hunter-gatherer” existence. It’s believed that they lived in small bands… perhaps family groups or extended families… moving from one temporary camp to another as they followed herds of large game, such as the caribou and bison. Being constantly on the move, they built no permanent structures and are not known to have made any form of pottery. They had no possessions beyond those they could easily carry on their backs. Because of this lifestyle, there is no evidence they observed formal burial rituals, which can be an important source of information for archaeologists.

But major changes were coming. Over several thousands of years, the warming climate at the end of the ice age brought about a greater abundance of food, which supported a gradual population increase. As the northern glaciers receded, temperatures warmed, sea levels rose, and new game and plant species appeared in the area as the older species moved north or became extinct. This period of major climatic changes marks the end of the Paleo-Indian era and the beginning of the Archaic period.

Paleo-Indian Era

Archaic Era – 8,000 B.C. to 1,000 B.C.

The Archaic peoples were also hunter-gatherers, but archaeologists do not find evidence that large cold-weather game animals such as the caribou were still in the Yadkin Valley. They do find evidence that the Archaic People depended on white-tailed deer, bear, the small game as well as nuts, acorns, and wild greens. These changes indicate there were changes in their lifestyle and their use of tools.

Because they were less dependent on following large game herds for survival, Archaic Native Americans likely lived in temporary camps near areas of abundant food and water for longer periods of time. Stone implements and projectile points made by Archaic Native Americans assumed new forms, and their populations grew.

About 6,000 B.C., another climatic change brought about drier periods, forcing a shift to more of a “foraging” lifestyle than a traditional “gathering” one. Food was no longer so abundant that sustaining quantities of any item could reliably be found in one area. Seed and animal bone remains left in the ashes of their campfires show that Archaic bands sought a wider variety of game and a greater range of wild foodstuffs. Remains of fish bones and mollusk shell, along with the net weights and fishhooks testify to an increased dependency on the river to provide additional food. Archaeologists further suspect that this shift to a foraging culture caused them to spend more of their time in a single location, although, as was the case with their predecessors, they left no signs of permanent structures.

Another change demonstrated by the archaeological record was the adoption of the atlatl, a forearm-length wooden device used to add additional leverage and power when throwing a light spear or dart. The presence of the atlatl among the Archaic people is indicated by the presence of the characteristic stone weights (known as “bannerstones”) that were used as counterbalances.

Toward the end of the Archaic era, some of the Archaic people began to manufacture bowls of steatite or “soapstone,” a soft, easily shaped stone that is found in outcroppings in the northern Piedmont. The presence of fragments of these containers in ancient campsites indicates that the Archaic Indians were storing food and also were staying in one site long enough to make such a heavy container practical. Inspection of their stone implements also shows us a better state of finish, as they were intended for longer-term use. And Archaic peoples began to bury their dead, perhaps reflecting a greater degree of permanence in any one location.

Archaic Era

Woodland Era – 1,000 B.C. until 1,700 A.D.

The popular image of the Native American is that associated with the period from their first contact with Europeans to the present. We think of the bow and arrow, pottery, village sites and a defined tribal social order. Each of these characteristics evolved in the last 2,700 years during the Woodland Period. The presence of pottery implies that the Native American peoples had become far less nomadic than their ancestors. Indeed archaeologists find that the woodland people built and inhabited permanent structures.

What changes allowed this greater permanence? Certainly one of them was the beginning of horticulture. At first, it seems that the seed of wild edible plants was allowed to germinate and grow, probably in small patches near village sites. (A totally wild plant can be differentiated from a cultivated one by differences in the seeds found in archaeological excavations.) Later in the Woodland period, new plants brought from Meso-America begin to appear in the archaeological record. Among these newcomers were corn, squash, beans, and pumpkins, all of which would become important foodstuffs for Native Americans. With a more assured food supply, populations rose and became less migratory.

Another change was the adoption of the bow and arrow, producing a much more efficient hunting weapon. Projectile points for arrows are generally much smaller than those of its predecessors the spear and atlatl.

With a larger less nomadic population in more permanent camp or village sites, it’s likely that a more structured social system developed. The social hierarchy would have elevated some among the Native Americans to a more respected status based on their skills in leadership, hunting, warfare, and ceremony. We’re able to see some evidence of this in the wealth of goods included in some burials.

Woodland Era

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