Known by their Neighbors

Many of the families we see in Iredell County may be found at an earlier time in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Some were members of the same Presbyterian congregations. Many traveled together to the Salisbury District and to Rowan-Iredell Counties. While the name Cook occurs in Presbyterian congregations in Pennsylvania, there is no evidence of a link to Thomas Cook of Iredell. John Brevard (1715-1790) though born in Maryland, died in Statesville, Iredell County. He married Jane McWhorter and served in the Revolutionary War as a Patriot from Rowan County.6 He was a public figure in Iredell.

Four Cowan brothers emigrated from County Down to Pennsylvania during the 1720s. They left Ulster from Newry and first settled in Salisbury Township, Lancaster County Pennsylvania. By the 1750s the Cowans and their community were looking southward for less expensive land in the Carolinas. There, Lord Granville was selling off land he had acquired for favors to the Crown. John Cowan Sr. bought land in Rowan County, west of Salisbury, near the Catawba River in present day Iredell County.7

John McConnell (1721-1801) is said to have been born in Ireland and immigrated to Pennsylvania as a 19 year old. He became a weaver. He’s buried in Baker’s Cemetery at Mount Mourne, North Carolina.

The Rev. John Thomson (1690-1753) was born in Ireland, studied in Edinburgh before immigrating to New York as a 25 year old. He was ordained in Delaware into the Presbyterian Church of America and served in Pennsylvania, Virginia and finally in North Carolina. His is said to be the first grave in Baker’s Graveyard, though it is unmarked and its precise location is lost.8 Mecklenburg County is just south of Iredell County and the famous Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was signed by delegates in May 1775, among them John Brevard, Moses Winslow, Adlai Osborne, James Brandon, Samuel Young and others.9

These random vignettes of several men around the Thomas Cook family illustrate that this part of Rowan County was settled by Scotch Irish, most recently from Pennsylvania. In a larger context still, there are public records that confirm this.10 So, too, the 1790 Census for Iredell County lists familiar names.11