Rowan county was formed in 1753 from Anson county. In 1770 Surry, and in 1777 Burke counties were severally taken off, previous to which separations Anson county comprehended most of the western portion of North Carolina and Tennessee. Like a venerable mother, Rowan beholds with parental complacency and delight her prosperous children comfortably settled around her. Salisbury, her capital, derives its name from a handsome town in England, situated on the banks of the classic Avon, and near the noted Salisbury Plain, a dry, “chalky surface”, which accounts for the origin of its Saxon name, which means a “dry town”.
Rowan was first settled by Protestants, about 1720-25, from Moravia, fleeing from the persecutions of Ferdinand, the Second, by the Scotch, after the unsuccessful attempts of Charles Edward (commonly called the “Pretender”) to ascend the English throne, and by the Irish, after the rebellion of the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell, who were offered their pardon on condition of their emigrating to America and in assisting to colonize the English possessions there. The staid prudence of the German, the keen sagacity of the Scotch, and fiery ardor of the Irish commingled on American soil, and were fit materials to form the elemental foundations of an “industrious, progressive” and “independent” nation.
The early history of Rowan, and of her distinguished sons, affords of itself ample materials to fill an instructive volume. Within her borders resided such venerable patriots as Matthew Locke, Moses Winslow, Griffith Rutherford, John Brevard, William Sharpe, Samuel Young, William Kennon, Adlai Osborne, Francis McCorkle, James Brandon, James McCay, and many others, all true and constant friends of liberty; but alas! how little of their eminent services has been preserved. Even yet, it is believed, some one of her gifted sons might do much in collecting from traditional sources, and from her musty records a rich store of historical facts, hitherto unwritten, illustrative of the fair name and fame of her Revolutionary career.