Today, we would like to introduce a mountain that has been featured in many paintings and which probably looks familiar to many of you. It has special significance in our family history as well: Pilot Mountain in Surry County, North Carolina.
Note: The paintings that follow we found online, and if they are for sale in some way, shape or form, we added links to the respective sites.
Pilot Mountain is often considered North Carolina’s natural wonder because it is so unique. Being a remnant of the ancient Sauratown Mountains, Pilot Mountain is a quartzite monadnock, that is, a mountain that stands way above the surrounding area. To the native “Saura” Indians, Pilot Mountain was known as Jomeokee, the “Great Guide” or “Pilot” as it guided both Native Americans and early European hunters along a north-south path through the area. The summit area is off limits to the general public these days, the top being only physically accessible via rock climbing. The highest point people can get to in Pilot Mountain State Park is the Little Pinnacle, a false summit.
Fast forward to the 1960s, and you have a happy little TV sitcom set more or less at the foot of this beautiful rock: The Andy Griffith Show. And somewhere in between the two, our family history becomes connected to the area, and Denney bones still rest there.
Our first sure Denney ancestor in the United States was Samuel Denney (1635-1710), who came to America from the south-western England, settling first in Tidewater, VA. One of his great-grandsons, who was born 1715 or 1722, was named after him. He, in turn, had several sons with whom he came to Surry County, NC “some time before the war”, and settled on “the Hill Farm” on the Ararat River near the mouth of Pilot Creek, just west of Pilot Rock. This Samuel Denney remained there until he lost his wife Sarah, whose remains now lie under a rock pile on the south side of Pilot Creek, near the mouth, at the foot of the hill. If you look at a map where Pilot Creek meets the Ararat River, you can see quite well where that would have been. After his wife’s death, old man Samuel went west with some of his sons and grandsons and died in Gallia County, Ohio, where they had then settled.
Samuel’s son Azariah (1750 – 1830), the next ancestor in our line, married and settled on the Martin Flinchum farm on Pilot Creek, where he raised twelve children, six boys and six girls. His son James (1777 – 1860), our 5th great-grandfather, was among the family members that later left the area (between 1812 and 1816) to settle in Gallia County, Ohio, as mentioned above, while old man Azariah lived with his son Jordan on the farm on Pilot Creek until he died. See why the painting that featured a stream spoke to us especially?
Lastly, one more picture of Pilot Mountain, a photo this time that shows the view so many people are familiar with: Pilot Mountain from the south on U.S. Route 52. Got to go visit there one of these days!