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The Sanders Of Moore County*

by William D. Brewer


First, you will find Saunders and Sanders used interchangeably - sometimes in the same generation of the same family (the Saunders usually drove newer cars). The first Saunders of record in Moore County was Isaac, who bought land and a mill on upper Tillis (now Mill) Creek near present day Rt. 211 west of Eagle Springs. He disappears by the time of the 1790 census. In 1790 there were six Sanders families in Montgomery County; but none of record in Moore County until the 1810 census: this was my great-­great-great grandfather, Jesse (c. 1775-abt. 1849) who came from Chatham County. By 1815, Jesse owned three parcels totaling 260 acres in the area of Carthage. The original name of our county seat was Feaginsville, and the first county courthouse was a short distance south of the present courthouse, just west of Rt. 22, on the property of Richardson Feagin. In 1816 Jesse Sanders witnessed Richardson Feagin’s will; in 1819 Jesse was appointed postmaster of Carthage. At one point Jesse was known as Reverend Sanders. Saunders Street in Carthage is probably named after Jesse - I used to think it was named for Jesse’s great grandson Zeb, a noted lawyer in the area (more about him later), but Tony Parker, author of Moore County Cemeteries and an excellent resource for anyone working with local history, pointed out the street received its name well be­fore Zeb’s day. By 1840, Jesse had moved about sixteen miles west of Carthage to a farm near upper Wet Creek, about a mile south of present day Rt. 24/27. His son Hardy (an only child; unusual for those days) lived two miles due north of him on present day Eta Bell Road. According to Mr. Parker’s book on cemeteries, this road follows the roadbed of the Old Catawba Road, which forded Cabin Creek and kept going north in the direc­tion of Brown’s Chapel Church.

Hardy (1807-1895) was a farmer, master blacksmith, a reverend (preaching at Brown’s Chapel Christian Church), and at about the time of the Civil War was in charge of the blacksmith shop at the Kennedy Gun Factory at Mechanic’s Hill (now Robbins). In 1850, Hardy’s real estate was valued at $300; in 1860 it was $2200, and his personal property was valued at an additional $1500. From land grants and purchases he came to own a great deal of land along Wet Creek from present day Rt. 24/27 north to Cabin Creek. He married Sally Smith (1804-1884) in 1825; they had five sons and two daughters. Four of the sons served as Confederate soldiers, seeing action in some of the biggest battles in Virginia; remarkably, all survived. Jesse lived at the begin­ning of the road, near Rt. 24/27; Isham about 3/4 of a mile north; Hardy another 1/4 of a mile north; and John’s house was just before you get to Cabin Creek. All were farmers, in addition, Jesse built caskets, Isham did some preaching, and John operated a grist mill. In addition, a number of Sanders through several generations produced a vast quantity of untaxed liquor, both for their own enjoyment and as a source of ready money.

Outside of our immediate area, Zeb Sanders (1866-1932) was the widest known of this group of Sanders. Son of Isham, he went to Wake Forest two years, studied law at UNC, and was admitted to the bar in 1892. Meade Seawell, in Tale of a Tar Heel Town (Carthage), mentions him several times. At the dedication of the new courthouse in Carthage in 1923, the principal address was made by an Associate Justice of the state Supreme Court, Judge W.J. Adams. Apparently Judge Adams had a soft voice, because the ensuing article in the Raleigh Evening Times described his speech this way: “Because Judge Will Adams had not the voice of, say Zeb Sanders, ...” he still managed to hold his audience’s attention by his select choice of words and his illustrations; later Miss Seawell says, of Zeb, that “Some said he could out holler hollering Tom Frye...When Mr. Zeb spoke, they said, it was rapid fire with leaping crescendos.”

One time a Judge Robinson was holding court here, and apparently Zeb was coming along a little too strong in his address to the jury. According to Miss Seawell, the judge interrupted him with this message: “Mr. Sanders, for the sake of the people in the neighboring states, Sir, for the sake of the people in our adjoining counties, for the sake of our dead ancestors in the adjacent cemeteries, for your sale, for my sake, and oh, sir, for God’s sake, can’t you lower your voice a little bit.”

It is on record that he defied at least two judges of the N.C. Superior Court bench, and at least on one occasion went to jail for contempt of court. His obituary from the Moore County News of Thursday, October 20, 1932, states that “His death was hastened, many believe, when he walked right into the path of a swinging club in the hands of an erstwhile friend.” According to oral family history, he successfully defended two men who broke into his home in Carthage and stole household goods from him.

The Britton (or Brittain, or Brittian) Sanders cabin on the grounds of the Shaw house was moved from its original location on the east side of Pine Grove Church Road (the next road to the west of Eta Bell Road) on a hill overlooking Cabin Creek. Britton (1831-1913) was a son of Hardy, and married (successively) two Morgan sisters. Morgans owned the land adjacent to Hardy, to the west of him; their land extended north of Cabin Creek - including the land around the original site of the Britton Sanders cabin. That north/south Morgan line goes back to around 1750; the cabin was supposedly built around 1775, which predates Britton by about fifty years - so apparently Britton obtained the cabin when he married Susie Morgan.

The loom in the Britton Sanders cabin was one of several made by a gentleman named Martin Brewer, who was a first cousin of my great-great grandfather, William Domas Brewer. Martin also had several other connections to the Hardy Sanders family: he attended the same church; served in Company F of the 3rd North Carolina Infantry Regiment with Britton, Jesse, and John Sanders (Simon, the other son to serve, was in Company D of the 48th Regiment); was captured and imprisoned by the Yankees, along with John, Britton, and Simon; Martin, John, and Simon escaped and made their way back to North Carolina together; and finally, Martin’s obituary, at age 98, appeared in the same October 20, 1932, issue of the paper as Zeb Sanders’ obituary.

My grandfather, Aaron Pickney Brewer, married Isham’s daughter (and Zeb’s sister), Martha Jane Sanders, in 1878. Through the marriage he obtained about 35 acres of the original Hardy Sanders’ tract, touching on Cabin Creek. Around 1900, he bought four adjacent tracts bordering on Wet Creek from the Sanders heirs, including Hardy’s home. I inherited my grandfather’s land through my father. My driveway begins right in front of where Hardy’s house stood. His gravesite is at the edge of my pasture; a photograph of the graves appeared in the December 17th issue of The Pilot newspaper, accompanied by an article by Stella Mae (Sanders) Morgan, of Ether, a great granddaughter of Britton Sanders.


* This article was written by William D. Brewer, great-great grandson of Hardy Sanders. First published in the May 2007 issue of the Moore County Historical Association newsletter.