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(1780 - 18??)


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"The Pioneer"

(1697 - 1774)

"The Conestoga
Fur Trader"

(1666 - 1747)


(1635 - 1719)


(1610 - 1668)


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Adam "The Pioneer" Sherrill (b. 1697)


Born: 1697, Cecil County, MD
Died:  04 May 1774, Sherrills Ford, Catawba County, NC




Adam "the Pioneer" Sherrill was born 1697 in Cecil County, MD.  He was the son of William "the Conestoga Fur Trader" Sherrill and Margarette Rudisil.


Adam married Elizabeth Corzine in 1722 in Chester County, PA.  Elizabeth was born about 1701 in Cecil County, MD. 

Indenture  -  01 Sep 1736

This Indenture made the first day of September Anno Dom. one thousand seven hundred & thirty six Between Adam Sherrell of Cecil County in Maryland yeoman of the one part and Samuel Caldwell late of the County of Lancaster in Pensilvania yeoman of the other part witnesseth that whereas Charles Absolute Lord and Proprieter of the said province of Maryland & avalon[?] Lord Baron of Baltimore HRD under his Greater seal at Arms gives grant convey and confirm by his letters Patents a certain tract of land lying scituate and being in the said county of Cecil and known or called by the name of three Partners as by the said patent bearing date the sixteenth day of September one  thousand seven hundred & twenty enterd on the records of the land office in the city of Annapolis in Lib'r 8.3217322 relation being thereunto had may more largely and amply appear and whereas the said Thomas Jacobs did give grant convey & confirm unto William Sherwill father of the said Adam Sherwill two hundred acres of land part of the said tract called three partners by his deed of feeofment and date bearing the thirtennth day of December one thousand seven hundred and twenty five entered on the records of the land office in the said county of Cecil in Lib'r SK no. 5 in fol's 9 & 10 Reference being thereunto had may at large appear and where as the said Wm Serwill father of the said Adam did give grant convey & confirm unto the said Adam Sherwill his son one hundred acres of land part of the said tract granted him by the said Thomas Jacobs as by the deed of sale of him the said William Sherwell to his son Adam entered on the records in the said county of Cecil reference being thereunto had may more at large appear now know ye that he the said Adam Sherrill & Elizabeth his wife for and in consideration of the sum of fifty pounds lawfull money of Pensilvania to the said Adam Sherwell & Elizabeth his wife or either of them in hand paid by the said Samuel Caldwell ay or before the ensealing or delivery of these presents the receipt whereof they the said Adam Sherwill and Elizabeth his wife do hereby acknowledge have given granted bargained sold alienated enfeofed & confirmed and by these presents doth give grant alien enfeoff and confirm unto the said Samuel Caldwell his heirs and assigns the said one hundred acres of land Beginning at a white oak bouneded in standing at the north East corner pf the said tract of land called the three partners now runing thence west south west one hundred & sixty perches to a hickory sapling tree thence East South East one hundred and fifty perches thence East North East seventy perches thence by a straight & direct line to the first beginning containing as aforesaid one hundred acres together with all and singular the houses out houses barns stables orchards gardens commons common of pasture ways waters water courses profitts commodities hereditaments and appertenances to the said bargained premises belonging or in any wise appertaining To have and to hold the said bargained premises and every part and parcel thereof with their appertenances to him the s'd Samuel Caldwell hid heirs and assigns forever to his and their only proper use benefit and behoof forever clearly acquitted exonerated & discharged of and from all and all maner of former gifts grants bargains sales leases mortgages wills entails joyntures dowrys judgments executors incumbrances and troubles whatsoever and the said Adam Sherwell and Elizabeth his wife doth further covenant and bind themselves their heirs executors and admin's firmly by these presents warant & defend the said Samuel Caldwell his heirs and assigns against the right claim property interest or demand of him the said Adam Sherwill oe Elizabeth his wife their heirs Exr's Admin's or assigns or any other person by form or under him her or them or by his or their will money or procurement whatsoever & In Witnesseth whereof the said Adam Serwill and Elizabeth his wife have hereunto set their hands & affixed their seals the day and year first above written.

Sealed & delivered in the presence of us}            Adam his[II]mark Sherwill {seal}

Isaac Sanders  Benjam' Brittain}                Elizabeth her[E]mark Sherwill {seal}


Be it remembered that on the first day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred & thirty six personally appeared before me the subscriber one of his Lordships Justices of the Provincial Court Adam Sherwill & Elizabeth his wife & acknowledge the within deed of conveyance to be their act and deed and the land and premises therein mentioned to be the right and property of the said Samuel Caldwell his heirs and assigns forever and the said Elizabeth being privately examined out of the hearing of her said husband by me pursuant to an act of assembly in that case made and provided  declared that she gave him her consent to the within alienation & this acknowledgement without any manner of compulsion or fear of her husband Jon Copson Sept 10th 17 hundred & thirty six rcvd four shillings sto' the alienation fine of the within 100 acres of land pt. of three partners    

Jas Paul Heath
Recorded this 10th November 1736     
Wm Knight


Prince George County

By virtue of a Warrant granted out of his Lordships Land office of the Province to Adam Sherril of Prince Geo County bearing date Jan ye 11th Anno Dom. 1738 for the quantity of one hundred acres of vacant land he having paid the usual fine for the same as appears & Therefore certifies deputy surveyor of Prince geo County under his edict Samual Lyle Esq. Governor of Maryland I have carefully laid ot for & in the name of him the said Adam Sherrill all that tract of land lying in Prince Geo County called Capt. Johns Bottom Beginning at a bounded white oak standing by the side of Potomac River between the mouth of Anteatum & Conegocheys Creek and in a place called Capt. John Bottom & runing thence north thirty nine deg's West thirty six poles thence south sixty five days West fifty six poles then south forty two poles then south sixteen deg's west twenty two poles then south nine deg's east thirty eight poles then south twenty nine deg's east thirty four poles then south forty three deg's east forty four poles then south fifty seven deg's east eighty poles then south fifty deg's east forty poles then north fifty three deg's east forty four poles then north figty deg's west forty poles then north fifty six deg's west eighty eight poles then by a straight line to the beginning tree containing & now laid out for one hundred acres af land to be held of Conegocheigo Mannor.

Surveyed this 2 day of March Anno Dom 1738

B. Young Exam'd                                  Pet. Dent. dept Surv.
of P. Geo County

A patent was issued later in the year for 100 acres at Anteatum Creek.

Adam Sherrill Sr. moved from Prince George's County, MD, to Augusta Co, VA where he remained for a while.  Adam Sherrill appeared in a militia list of Augusta County Virginia in 1742 with father and brothers. 



Adam and Elizabeth had nine children
Name Birth Date Death Date Spouse
William B. Sherrill 01 May 1723 31 Dec 1786 Agnes White
Samuel Sherrill 01 Oct 1725 22 Jun 1800 Mary Preston/Carmack
Uriah Sherrill 01 Mar 1728 27 Nov 1779 Judith Lewis
Adam Sherrill 01 Nov 1731 1787 (1) Elizabeth Lowrance
(2) Sina Corzine
Aquilla "Quillar" Sherrill 30 Nov 1733 19 Jan 1805 Lucretia Wilson
Isaac Sherrill 20 Jun 1736    
Jacob Sherrill 21 Aug 1739 11 Jun 1813 Huldah Wilson
Moses Sherrill 08 Aug 1742 15 Jan 1813 Sarah Simpson
Catherine Sherrill 1744    

There was nothing but wilderness west of the Catawba River in the 1740's. The only inhabitants in this area were the Indians who hunted and fished there. At that time, all the settlers coming westward stopped on the eastern side of the Catawba River and settled there. The western side was most uninviting and not knowing anything of this area, the settlers did not venture west  just to find out what was there. It was not until 1747 that the first white settler and his family of eight sons ventured across the Catawba River and settled on the western side.  

Source: The Newton-Conover Observer Newspaper, Newton, N. C., June 16, 1952, Volume 19, No. 20.


In 1747, Adam "The Pioneer" Sherrill, along with his brother William Sherrill, his nephew John Perkins (a son of Margaret's and Elisha Perkins), his sister Mary (and her husband Richard Perkins II), along with the John Robinson family, and a number of Sherrills, moved to the west side of the Catawba River in North Carolina.  Most of the group were of German origin.  Adam is known as "the first permanent white settler west of the Catawba River".  Adam's arrival in the area pre-dates Daniel Boone's arrival in the area by at least 10 years.


Adam spent several days scouting the Catawba River before they attempted to cross it.

Adam Sherrill's home was located about a mile from the banks of the Catawba River near Sherrill's Ford and Terrell, North Carolina, but he did not receive has land grant until April 1749.  It was the first house built in Catawba County. The community of Sherrill's Ford got its name from the ford that Adam Sherrill crossed in 1747.  Their nearest neighbors were ten miles to the southeast.  Tradition says that Adam spoke at least one Indian dialect.

This section of land was part of Bladen County until 1749 when it became Anson County. In 1769 the county was renamed Tryon - until 1779 when Lincoln County was established - and then Catawba County in 1842.
Adam Sherrill (1697) died 04 May 1774 in Sherrills Ford, Catawba County, NC.

Will of Adam Sherrill (1697)


In the name of God, Amen, I, ADAM SHERRILL of the County of Rowan and the province of North Carolina being in perfect health and memory, praised be God, do make this my last will and testament as followeth:

I, give and bequest unto my son ADAM, one Negro fellow, called and known by the name of "Vail" to him and his heirs forever after my decease.

I give and bequeath unto my son QUILLAR one Negro after my decease if either one, besides Vail, and in case I should have no others after my decease.

I give unto my son QUILLAR thirty pounds in lieu therefore to be raised out of my estate after my decease to him and his heirs.

I give and bequeath unto my son WILLIAM SHERRILL one of the best horses or mares that I posses at my decease to him and his heirs forever.

The true intent and meaning of this, my last will is that no other will make by me or any other in my name shall disannul this my last will.

I do appoint my two sons, ADAM and QUILLAR executors of this my last will and Testament.

5 March 1772
ADAM (his mark) SHERRILL

James CLARK, Junior
Abraham ROBERSON, Junior
William BERRY

Court Record of Rowan County, NC, Will entered for probate Wednesday, May 4, 1774.


Adam Sherrill Family 1st to Arrive
Crossed Into Valley In 1747

Hickory Daily Record
Centennial Edition
Saturday, June 6, 1970

by Pamela Whitener


On August 2, 1929, at a spot now covered by the waters of Lake Norman, the descendants of the founder of Catawba County’s earliest permanent settlement erected on a boulder a monument inscribed with these words:


“This boulder commemorates the crossing of the Catawba River by Adam Sherrill, the Pioneer, with his eight sons and others in 1747 at the ford which bears his name.  Erected by his descendants, August 2, 1929.”



The monument bowed to progress, to the damming up of the Catawba in order to create the largest lake in the state, Lake Norman, obscuring for good the spot where Adam Sherrill forded the river to make a new home in unknown territory.  But it is hard to believe Sherrill would mind if he could see - progress was his stock in trade.


Just A Wilderness


At the time of Sherrill’s arrival, the Catawba River valley was a wilderness inhabited by the Catawba Indians and stragglers from the Cherokee nation.  It was at that time officially a part of the crown colony of North Carolina’s Bladen County, a large area covering all the western part of the state, and having no definite boundary in the west.  Exploration of the colonies was as such an early stage in that new counties in the Southern coastal colonies were designated simply as extending to the “South Seas,” or Pacific Ocean, until bounded by the formation of another county.


Sherrill crossed the river at what is now southeastern Catawba County, near the present-day Sherrill’s Ford community.


The Sherrill party was fairly large.  It was headed by Adam’s father, William Sherrill, Sr., and included Adam, his brother William, their families and others.  Included in the party was a 14-year-old youth to become well-known later as “Gentleman” John Perkins, a hunter and guide of wide reputation.  Some historians think that Henrich Weidner, another well-know pioneer and founder of Catawba County’s numerous Whitener  clan, may have made his first trip into the area with the Sherrill party.


Brought Negros Along


The Sherrills are thought to be the first to bring slaves into the area, as accounts of the expedition mentions two Negro brothers, twins, who aided in the building of the Adam Sherrill home.  There is also mention of a Negro servant, Saul, who aided in the crossing at Sherrills Ford.


The Sherrills were of British extraction, either English or Welsh.  The name Sherrill is derived from Shire Rill indicating that the original family came from a shire, or county, in England or Wales, and lived near a rill or small stream.  The family first lived in this country in Pennsylvania; however, they came to North Carolina from Augusta County, Virginia.  It is believed the trip from Virginia to this area took about ten days.


Not all the Sherrills forded the Catawba to settle on its western bank.  William, Sr., and William, Jr., stayed behind with their families on the eastern side, in what is now Iredell County.  Adam Sherrill and his eight sons - William, Samuel, Uriah, Adam Jr.,  Aquilla, Isaac, Jacob and Moses - along with a few others, decided to make the difficult crossing.


Reasons Uncertain


It is not known exactly why Sherrill decided to settle on the other side of the river.  Charles J. Preslar, Jr., author-editor of “A History of Catawba County,” suggests that perhaps Sherrill, whose chief occupation was to be farming, was thinking of establishing more room for spreading of the pioneer community, or of the “possible abundance of fur animals in the woods off the western shore.  (Fur trading did later prove to be a good source of income for some early pioneers in Catawba County)  At any rate, as Preslar points out, it certainly was a brave act, as settling on that side cut off easy traffic and made the family more vulnerable to attack from the Cherokees.  The settlers could be killed easily if forced to cross the river and on the other side was only an unmarked wilderness.


Bishop August Gottlieb Spangenburg, who was exploring the Western Piedmont in search of a suitable location for a Moravian settlement, wrote this of the area in 1752 when he reached the Catawba River west of Statesville:


“Hitherto we have been on the Trading Path, where we could find at least one house a day where food could be bought, but from here we turn into the pathless forest.”


1st Landowner


Sherrill was given the first land grant in Catawba County in 1748.  He and his family built the first home in the county, a stockade-type house made of rough logs and designed chiefly for protection against the marauding Cherokees, meant to serve until a more suitable house could be built for the family.  The house was destroyed by fire after a few years.


The second Sherrill home, built about 1752, was still standing 200 years later, and, was described in an article in the July 17, 1952 edition of The Record:


“The front door of the house is quite wide.  There are two small wooden-paneled doors.  These doors are hand-hewn and are pegged.  This massive doorway is outlined with small panes of glass … (of a) … frosted design, giving the appearance of having been etched.”


Diagram of the Adam Sherrill House


“The walls of the hall are sealed with boards about four to six inches in width, extremely long, extending from the front of the hall to the back.”


There were six rooms in the Sherrill home, three to each of the two stories, plus a third-floor garret and a cellar.  The rooms of the first floor, a kitchen, a living room, and a parlor, all with ten-foot-high ceilings, were constructed mostly of smooth hand-pegged boards.  The flooring was of the very wide boards common to early, architecture, grooved together.


Two Fireplaces In Room


The living room had two fireplaces, made of brick.  All this masonry in the house was done by the Negro twins mentioned above, including the stonework in the foundation.  The house was supported by huge timbers left exposed in the cellar.  All roof beams were of solid wood.


Sturdiness was not the only thought of the pioneers - some of the walls of the house were adorned with thirty-inch-high wainscoting with a design either painted or burned into the wood.  Molding on the sides of stairways was hand carved from one large piece of wood.


Adam Sherrill seemed content to remain a quiet farmer and family man.  There is no record of his taking any major part in the business of the community that grew up in the area he settled, but his role as the first brave settler in Catawba County territory certainly places him among the most highly honored men.


Sherrill Family Cenetery
Located across from Sherrill’s Ford Elementary School
Take Island Point Rd. & then Camden Rd.
Sherrills Ford, NC


he Newton-Conover Observer Newspaper, Newton, N. C., June 16, 1952, Volume 19, No. 20.


Hickory Daily Record, Centennial Edition, Saturday, June 6, 1970


If you have photos or additional information on Adam "The Pioneer" Sherrill, please contact me.