The History of Marvin
Ruth B. Ezzell
I feel so inadequate in trying to give a history of Marvin, but I have tried to collect some information and will share what I have found with you. When searching for Marvin history undeniable hardships have been constantly present. In common with most communities, people have not been very history conscious and failed to preserve many records.
As we learn of the early history — the hardships — the sacrifices made by our forefathers — their determination to lay Christian principles as foundations for future generations — how they fought in wars for freedom and liberty — we may be inspired to a greater loyalty and appreciation of our community “Marvin.”
I would like to express my gratitude to you and many other friends who have given me information. I have acquired other sources from the Salisbury library, the Mecklenburg and Union County libraries, the N.C. Archives at Raleigh, the S. C. Archives at Columbia and the National Archives at Washington, Union and Cleveland in N.C.; Lancaster and York in S. C. and Sussex in Virginia. Some of my information I got from newspapers — The Charlotte Observer, Lancaster news, Evening Herald and the Monroe Enquirer with its many historical features, especially those by Miss Jennie Helms, for which I shall always be grateful.
In formulation any history, the beginning must be made at some point or at some time. I am beginning with why, when and how Marvin was settled. Let’s begin in 1603 when Queen Elizabeth of England died. Her successor, James I, seized two large estates from two rebellious Irish noblemen and granted the property to some Scottish landlords and English merchants. These new owners persuaded Scottish tenants from the lowlands to migrate to the section of Ireland known as Ulster. These people were living in bleak Scottish heaths before migrating to the green valleys of Ireland and later to the colonies. The reasons for migrating — first to Ireland, then to the colonies (Penn.) and then to the Providence — Waxhaw area were the same as those generally ascribed to migrants — escape, and excitement and economic improvement. If you were poor you stayed poor no matter how hard you worked or what abilities you had. As a rule, even today, people who migrate are usually dissatisfied at home or anxious to improve their lots. This was the case with our ancestors. I dare say that most, if not all of us, are descendants of these very poor Scot-Irish immigrants. The upper classes were already successful and had no reason to go to the wilderness to start afresh.
Our Scot ancestors did migrate and went with great ambition and initiative. They went in great numbers. The settled and became industrious and thrifty and developed flourishing industries. But a combination of events and circumstances led to the American exodus. It was religion — they wanted to worship as they pleased. I was political — freedom to do and say what they pleased. Many had been in Ulster four generation or almost 100 years before the large scale migration to America about 1717.
You remember from your history the first permanent English settlement was at Jamestown, VA., in 1607. Attempts were made to colonize North Carolina for 80 years between 1584 and 1663, but were unsuccessful. The Virginians (they were already a colony) began to eye the vacant lands to the south. About 30 families had filtered south into the Albemarle Sound area by 1650 or 1660. As far as is known non had deeds to the lands, probably just an agreement with the Native Americans. none are known to have held land prior to 1663 by formal patent.
In 1663 Charles II granted to 8 Proprietors (they were his supporters who helped him regain the English throne) certain lands in the “new world” which is the present N.C. — from the Virginia border to what is now Cape Canaveral, Fla.) These (Lords Proprietors) along with other privileges, had the right to grant lands. And so in 1669 for the first time in what is North Carolina, land grant entries were made, land patents and deeds were recorded, land was taxed, a court of claims was established to settle disputes arising from grants, and North Carolina records began. The colony (N.C.) was under the leadership of the Lords Proprietors for 60 years, but it did not flourish — the lords did not get the return they expected. In 1729 seven of the original proprietary shares were sold to George II. Then N.C. became a crown colony. One of the shareholders, John Carteret refused to sell. When his mother died in 1744 he became the 2nd Earl of Granville. He got his 1/8 share of Carolinas and the Granville district was created. He was represented in the Granville district by land agents who granted the lands and collected the rents and fees. He died in 1763 never having seen his N.C. lands. His son, the 3rd Earl of Granville inherited the N.C. lands. He die in 1776 — the year the Revolution began and this land grant office was never opened.
There were no Granville grants in this area as the Granville area was in the northern part of N.C. All the grants in this area were crown grants.
A land grant-land patent was a document transferring ownership of vacant land from a granting authority to a person who wanted it. Very few of the original crown grants have survived.
Here is what is left of the original crown grant for 300 acres to William King in 1763. This includes the Verlene, Ann, Sissy, Sirley, Ida, Jo and Jo Ann King live and the big field in the corner of Marvin-Weddington and Joe Kerr roads. Before his death he deeded John King 200 acres. Most of the King family died of small pox and are buried in the family cemetery between Ann and Verlene’s.
Sara Carter Crooke owns the original crown grant to Benjamin Story for the lands we know as the Stephenson place (on Crane road). In included where Frances Carter lived across New Town road to what we call Ross Town.
Another crown grant which both grant and property are still in family ownership is the Henry Downs King’s grant on Hwy. 51 and Strawberry Lane. Henry Downs was one of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. he was a tax assessor and overseer of the poor for the years 1775-1785. He must have been a lawyer too, because I have seen many legal documents that he signed.
In 1777 (after the Revolution) North Carolina began issuing State Land Grants — to grant lands formerly held by the crown and the Earl of Granville. Our first Marvin settlers — the Stitts, Dunns, Storys, Ezzells, and others had state grants. A person could locate up to 640 acres of vacant or engrafted land and apply for it. The land Grant system was as follows:
Headlight System: A person was given a certain number of acres per settler brought into the colonies. This was a way to populate the colony. The patent stipulated that the grantee settle on the land, clear and plant so many acres in specified time.
Purchase Patent: The settler purchased the patent for a small amount of money. Purchase patents became more common during the crown period and all Headright grants ceased with the Revolution.
This was the Land Grant Process: A person found land that he wanted and made a land entry or application to the land office. Once the entry was made a warrant was issued. It was an order issued to a surveyor to set apart lands described int he entry. the surveyor surveyed it, drew a plant of the survey and gave a description of the lands. All the old deeds name and streams: 6 mile creek, 4 mile, 12 mile, etc. The streams were named by the Indians before the settlers came. Upon receipt of the plant of survey, the secretary of state wrote out the patent conveying the land to the grantee and attached a copy of the survey to it with sealing wax. A copy was filed in the land grant office. These records are in the Secretary of State Land Grand office on Jones Street in Raleigh. Here are all Proprietary, Crown and state patents from 1679 to 1959 when they sealed issuing state grants.
Now lets talk about the first land owners of Marvin — the Native Americans. The Waxhaw Tribe derived their name from the reed-like waxy haws that were abundant along the Waxhaw creeks. The Native Americans were almost wiped out in 1741 by small pox so the few remaining ones left this section and joined the Catawbas across the river.
The mystery of the Waxhaw Native Americans is where did they bury their dead. Usually Native Americans buried in mounds, but none can be found. I have read that there is a burial ground near Marvin. I believe it to be behind this church in the woods on Bill Ezzell’s property. A large section is marked with big rocks as if marking graves. However, this could be Revolutionary War burying spot (I’ve read there was one of these in Marvin) or maybe it’s just a coincidence that the stones are in such a formation and no other stones as such are in the area.
But with the departure of the Native Americans this area was left open for settlement. let’s take a look at how North Carolina was settled and how the counties were formed. Show maps.
1763 is the earliest we have any record of settlers living in this area. I have found the record of only one Revolutionary war soldier, Sir Frederick Ezzell. Here is an account of his application of his pay. You remember the Revolutionary soldiers were not paid for their military service. Instead, some were given vouchers which they could use for getting land with many did. when they apply for their pay later they were paid in Spanish minted coins. Here is one, dated 1772, that Aunt Bertie gave Steve.
Now let’s talk more about the settlement. From the time of Jamestown in 1607 to the Revolution, many immigrants had migrated to the colonies. They were excited about the prospects of a better life and undaunted by the hardships and perils of a strange land. About 1740 some of the immigrants who had migrated to Pennsylvania and Virginia and other northern colonies began moving through the valley of Virginia to N.C. In the meantime there began a flow of immigrants northward from Georgetown and Charleston. They merged in this region.
The date commonly accepted for settlement for this piedmont section of N.C. is about 1748. In 1752 a traveler at Salisbury could travel all day and find one house and southward nothing but wilderness. There were a few Pennsylvania Germans higher up in the piedmont. Their solitary cabins were scattered from the Yadkin river to the Catawba. The earliest record we have of settlers here is 1763.
But once the procession of settlers started, the southbound traffic along the Great Philadelphia wagon road numbered in the tens of thousands. It was a round road, actually an old Native American trail. You could travel about 20 miles a day in a wagon or 30 on horseback.
In 1746 (before the Revolution) in Anson county which is now Union, Mecklenburg, Orange and Rowan counties, there were not 100 fighting men. In 1753 (seven years later) there are 3000. By 1757 the first white settlers had started coming into this area. On December 11, 1762 Mecklenburg county was formed from the western part of Anson county. We (Marvin) were in Mecklenburg county until 1842 when Union county was formed.
These early Marvin settlers hacked their existence from a wild strange country. There were huge forests, thickets and thick underbrush. There was an abundance of game and fish. There were small animals — rabbits, squirrel, birds and wild turkeys, but their favorite meat was deer. The old Buck Hill Baptist church which stood where Vaughn Ezzell’s house now stands, was named Buck Hill Meeting House because so many buck deer came there every day. Speaking of the church — some of the early settlers of Marvin attended Flint Hill Baptist church. Frederic Ezzell Sr. and Frederick Jr. and his family and their slaves are listed on the church roll from 1793 – 1835. Buck Hill was organized as a mission branch of Flint Hill in 1858. It was moved and became Pleasant Valley Baptist church.
Our early settlers were not idlers. They erected their crude homes — most were logs with hand-hewn batten doors and rock chimneys. An example of these homes are the cabins at James K. Polk’s birthplace. They were originally the old Coffey cabin (moved from where the Coffeys settled near Bill and Dan Kell’s) and the Rea cabin and the Kuykendall cabin moved form the Providence community. The settlers made roads, created simple tools and then envisioned churches and schools. Their lives in the wilderness changed rapidly. By 1760 they were doing business with the merchandise in Charleston. They took tallow, cheese, butter and hides, etc. and traded for what they could not produce like salt, iron, etc. Later country stores began and sold bundles of yarn, loaf sugar and bars or slabs of iron for plows and tools. Miss Jennie Helms (and Cornelia) wrote a very interesting article describing the earliest country store that Miss Jennie remembered. Blacksmith shops began to appear — that was an important business then and was until after World War II when tractors and machinery took the place of horse drawn implements. One such blacksmith shop was Mr. John McKinney’s which stood between the store building here and where Bill Ezzell’s old house is. From about 1810 to 1910 there was a blacksmith shop where J.O. McCorkle lives in Indian Land. The best known blacksmiths there were the brothers — Madison and Lee Gordon.
Tailors were important to the early settlers. They took pride in dressing and wanted nice clothes to go to worship in. There was a tan yard near where pleasant Valley church now is where they manufactured the shoes the Marvin people wore after the Revolution.
Then came the first saw mills. The first such was known as Harrisburg mill located just north from where McAlpine creak flows into Sugar Creek. There was also a grist mill there. There were probably other corn mills in this area but the Marvin people no doubt took their wheat for flour (after they began growing wheat — sowing, cradling, bundling, threshing) to Howard’s mill as it was the first flour mill. It (as all mills were water powered) was located on 12 mile creek. Go New Town road across highway 16 until you come to a little (colored) cemetery on your right. Take the field road by the cemetery and go to the creek. There are still some old logs there, remnants of the old mill. This mill was owned by Margie Howard Hemby’s ancestral grandfather and was operated by Henry Wolfe (born 1775, died 1858) for 20 years. Another early one (not close by) was this one on the Catawba River just below where the bridge is between Fort Mill and Rock Hill.
And the cotton gins — they came when the settlers began producing cotton. It was actually the first money crop. The early settlers began agriculture as soon as they arrived here in Marvin — producing about all the requirements necessary for survival. Then came the cotton period. There were no mosquitoes here until 1820 when the cultivation of cotton changed the drainage patterns. Most of the cotton grown here in the western part of the Union county was produced by the slave system and the tenants farmer system. Most of the Marvin settlers owned slaves — some many. The first census taken in the U.S. was in 1790 and most of the first white residents of Marvin owned slaves. If you read some of the old wills, the bequeath their slaves usually to their children. Their slaves were their most valuable and honored possessions. The first slaves were brought to Jamestown from Africa by the Dutch in 1619 and were freed by the Civil War in 1865. But the slaves did not become important until 1680 when the Negro workers began to take the place of white indentured servants. Most of the local slaves were bought in Charleston. When the Civil War ended and they were freed, they took the last names of their masters. We still have black Arrays, Stitts, Dunnos, Ezzells, etc. living in this area.
And then there was the tenant farmer system where the tenant worked the crop on shares. They were hard workers trying to get enough had to buy lands for themselves.
After the cotton was ginned it was taken to Charleston and sold or traded for goods or slaves. They traveled to Charleston by the old Steel Creek road, later known as the Camden -Salisbury road. Cornwallis tore up the road during the Revolutionary War causing highway 521 to be laid out.
I’m sure you have heard and read about the Milt Chaney Inn. Milt Chaney was a mystery — no one knew where he came from. He ran his tavern by the side of the road and was untying but a friend to man. Travelers returning from Charleston may not have relished the idea of staying at the isolated inn on the verge of the dark forest, but with night falling and not other stopping place in sight — may came from as far as Salisbury — they had no other choice. Many of the travelers had cash gold received for the produce and cotton in Camden and Charleston. Several travelers disappeared in the area of Chaney’s Inn — their relatives could trace them that far but no farther. He denied any guilt, no proof could be found, however he was suspected of murder. He also dealt in stolen slaves. Finally he was convicted of stealing a slave from Dr. R. L. Crawford. On a prearranged scheme with the slave, he would sell the slave to a traveler. The slave would run away and come back and Chaney would hide him until the chance came to sell him again. Slave stealing at the time was punishable by death and he was hanged in Lancaster. years later when highway 531 was being cut and paved, many skeletons were unearthed. You may remember the old tavern, it stood near the intersection of 75 and 521.
Extensive cotton culture began about 1800 in the Sandy Ridge township and spread eastward in the county. There was a decline in its production following the Civil War as many men had been killed, many wounded. By the slaves being freed a lot of labor was lost. Another factor for the decline was some of the growers’ livestock was taken from military use. Here is a receipt of Burton’s grandfather Stephenson’s 2 head of cattle taken for military use.
But by 1910 there were more growers in Union County and cotton reached a peak of 47,686 acres. In 1930 another peak of 72,617 acres was reached. Then it steadily declined until now and unless Mr. Joe Kerr and Don have some, there is no cotton grown in Union county. The reasons are after World War II labor was a big problem. You couldn’t get labor to handpick cotton and mechanical pickers had not yet been invented. The Marvin farmers were plagued with the boll weevil and DDT was soon outlawed so the farmers turned to other work. By 1950 most families in Marvin had turned to Dairy farming. Those included Robert Earl White, Harry and Jim Ownbey, Burton and Bill Ezzell, Lofting Yarbrough, Robinson Yarbrough, Clyde Yarbrough, Roy carter, Murray Cunningham, Robert Pierce, the Helders, Brown Howey, Bradley Reid, and others. But too many farmers went into airing at that time and there was such a surplus of milk that the producers couldn’t make a profit so some went to row-cropping and beef cattle while others took jobs, offices, etc.
There were several cotton gins in the Marvin area during the cotton heyday. There was one beside the old Milas Howey house. Later George McManus put in what we knew as Breen’s gin (near Nora Lee’s). Then there was Mr. Frank Crane’s that sat across the road from the store and this church where the trees are. It had a cement foundation and couldn’t be moved and trees grew. There was another that sat at the corner of 521 and Marvin road where Isabel Stogner did live. Pets operated one in later year on 521. Will Hemby had a gin in Weddington between the present store and Endless Endeavors. Here is a picture of the old Stephenson gin. it stood across the road from where Frances Carter lived. It was horse drawn — the alter gins were waterpower or gasoline powered and after electricity was put thought the area, the later ones were electronically operated. The gins Burton used after World War II were Greens: Walter Taylor was the ginner; Pettus Mr. Ashley was ginner; Millers gin in Pineville — Joe and Jim Miller were ginners; the A. W. Heath gin in Waxhaw owned by the Massey brothers; the farmers gin owned by the Farmers Store; and Renfrows in Matthews, operated by the Renfrows. The last one to be used was the Houston gin owned by the Kerrs, and is the last one that will operates.
Going back to our early families in Marvin, most were free holders or middle class free men who owned property and paid taxes. Here is a list of taxpayers and the number of slaves for the years 1798 -1799. Most were large landowners. Some of the early residents and their property were: James Dunn — the Dunn property is where the Walden Development and the Bradley Reid property is. I know he had a state grant and maybe a crown. James Stitt — where the Lucy Hudson once lived, it was covered by a crown grant which her great great grandson, the Rev. Thomas Hudson has in his possession. The Stitt and Dun lands reached all the way back to Bill and Dan Kells’ property (before sold).
Sir Frederick Ezzell — the lands joining James Stitt’s on the West and includes where Shirley Carter, Sissie Craver, Ida Yarbrough, Ann Yarbrough, and Verlene Glenn lived and extends to include the big wheat field owned by Burton, and Joe and Jo Ann King’s home. this property was a crown grant to William King in 1763. He and most of the King family died of small pox and are buried int he family cemetery at Verlene’s. Frederick Ezzell, who was living where the Wingards now live, bought the King property in 1782.
William Robinson — His land joined the Ezzells this side of where Joe and Jo Ann King live and included what is now the McGees’ (Cathy) several other houses and the Robinwood development, our house and where Ann Gilliland lives.
William Robinson’s first house was about halfway between our house and Bobby Lambeth’s. Then he built a log (maybe moved it) house near where our house now sits. Where we lived was later known as the Watson place.
James Robinson’s place was where the Letts live. I do not know the boudoirs at that time but I do know L.K. One owned the property in 1875 and deeded the land for the church parking lot across the road.
Houston’s place was where Charles and Pat McGee and some of her family now live and the property across the road known as the Squires place. Let me say here that I do not know how many ownerships most of these tracts have passed through to the present owners. Mr. Niven who was Mrs. Helen Gamble’s father owned the Houston place and the William Robinson place and let these lands to his three daughters, Helen Gamble, Lucille Myers, and Mrs. Clyde Gamble.
Aaron Howey. The two story house just beyond Tark Heel branch on New Town road. He was a wagon maker, born in 1790. This is the oldest house in the area, it is made of logs and is still inhabited. It is owned by Doctor Pressley.
David Howey was born in 1795. His place and home was where Inez Cunningham lives. This home dates as one of the oldest.
The finches and Job Cranes — Where the old Fincher cemetery is — where Lester, Mary, and Lydia Crane lived. Huge homes are there now.
The Parks Place — below Vivian Crane’s on Crane road.
John Weaver place — where Vivian Crane’s place is.
Jacob Howard’s — where the Winged families now live, across the valley from Vivian. John Weaver and Jacob Howard were very early settlers.
Benjamin Story settled here on a crown grant and also attained acreage through a state grant.
Some later settlers were Rosses. They owned what is now Ross Town on Crane Road.
The Potts and McIlwains — their property included where the Deadwylers, Peeles, Bantas, Johnsons, Carrigans, part of Marvin Estates, Heritage Oaks, where Pittmans and Ernhearts, and Pressley and Carters live. Dr. McIlwain lived where the Deadwylers now live and it is said that his father-in-law, William Potts built the original house. The Arrays owned much land, at one time they owned from what is now part of Marvin estates to Ardrey Kell road, all the way from 521 to Earnhearts store.
The Howard family was one of the first settlers. Fulton Howard descended from this family and his home was at the corner of Crane road and Marvin-Weddington roads.
Colonel William Hagans lived on Tark Hill branch and manufactured cotton cloth and whiskey before his death in 1790. The oldest tombstone in Indian Land was erected at old Six Mile cemetery to his honor.
Gold mines in the area. There were 40 gold mines opened in Union county since it was formed in 1842, and the last one closed in 1942. The one best known to us was the Howie mine at Waxhaw and was on the William Henry Howie property. In the 1850 census, there were more people engaged in gold mining in the county than any occupation other than farming. Of these 40 mines in the county only one was near Marvin. it was located on the back side of what is now the rifle range (off Marvin-Waxhaw road) on 306 acres of land owned by Frederick Ezzell Jr. and known as the Ezzell gold mine.
The Marvin community is drained by Six Mile creek and Tark Hill branch which flow into Twelve Mile creek and the Catawba river. The average annual precipitation in Marvin is 44 to 46 inches, annual snowfall 2 to 4 inches. On march 17, 1885, we had 12 inches of snow. The worst disaster of recent years was Hurricane Hugo which passed through Marvin on September 22, 1989 doing extensive damage.
The first maps of Union County showed the county laid off in squares, each side two miles long. It was presumed that a school house should stand in each square, but we never had that many schools. In 1900 we had about 70 white and 20 colored schools. Children and to walk to school so they needed to be close together. Most were subscription schools.
In 1921, there were 98 schools in the county. Then started the consolidation movement of the smaller schools. in the 1960s the schools had consolidated and were about as they are now. The schools were also integrated in the 1960s.
The first school house that I have any record of was the old Stephenson log school house that sat just beyond Frances Carter’s house. Our church met there for services as early as 1872 before the church was built. Then Miss Jennie Helms mentions the little whitewashed school house with the belfry that sat about where the late Mrs. Crane’s house is now. Miss Carrie Wilburn and Miss Maggie White were teachers. She also tells of the one room school house a half mile away, built in 1887. The [population grew and a four room school was built, then later in 1924, the brick school was erected. Some of it’s teachers were Helen Gamble, Bertha Reep, Virginia Crane, Jennie Lynn Howard, Mrs. Elizabeth Covington, Mary Ruth Cowan, a Miss Tice, a Mrs. McCowen and the principal was Mr. Dickson. The four room school house was moved across the road by Mr. Niven and is now our home. After the consolidation of the white schools, the brick school was a colored school unit it burned about 1953 or 1954.
Schools a little farther were Wolfsville Academy located where New Town road crosses Highway 16. Wedding ton Academy — where the school house is; Kell school, where Sam one Ardrey’s daughter (did) live — across from the Blacks — where Mrs. Rena Kell reared her children; Pleasant Hill school — stood where Pleasant Hill church now stands; Old Barbersville school — on Camp Cox Cox road, and Old Providence school and others.
At the present time we have five high schools in Union county, and one college, Wingate. it is a Baptist affiliated college organized in 1895 as a preparatory school for men and woman. College level offerings were added in 1923 and the four year status was begun in 1977. Gladys Kerr has taught there many years (30).
Let’s review a little of our history fist. N.C. and S.C. were not divided until 1710. In the early years, S.C. was divided into parishes, not counties until later. Like N.C. the coastal areas were settled first, then the settlers moved inward.
Where we are was fist in Baden county, then Anson county was formed and we were in Anson until 1763, then Mecklenburg was cut from part of Anson and we were in Mecklenburg until 1842 when Union county formed from part of Mecklenburg and Anson. one version of how Union county got its name was from the Federal Union. another was in naming the new county there was a dispute over the name.Some Whigs favored the name Clay for Henry Clay, the democrats wanted Jackson for Andrew jackson, so they compromised on the name “union” because it was a union of two parts — Anson and Mecklenburg.
Mecklenburg county was named for Queen Charlotte from Mecklenburg Germany.
York county, S.C, was named for the first settlers from Yorktown Penn.
Lancaster County, S.C. was named for its first settlers from Lancaster Pa.
Marvin was fist named Poortith when it was established about 1882. Mr. J.B. Squires named it for one of his admired poet’s poem. bobby Burns wrote the poem “Poortith.” The word means poverty. After Marvin church was built and dedicated in 1875, the community took its name from the church. The church was named Marvin for Bishop E. M. Marvin.
The earliest settlers went to Providence post office about once a month to receive their mail. Later there was a post office at Wolfsville and then Poortith. The post office was in the store building. From the time the name was changed from Poortith to Marvin there was a mail rout from Osceola. Residents could get their mail from either Osceola or Waxhas or both. In 1896 there were 45 post offices in the county. Now there are seven.
There was a store at Wolfsville (corner of New Town and Hwy 16) in 1874 run by Samuel Brown Stephenson. Mr. Frank Crane ran a store in Marvin in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and was postmaster. The telephone switchboard was located in the store and Miss Jennie Helms was the operator. After Mr. Crane’s death in 1928 Miss Jennie ran the store. others who later operated the store were the Moodys, Winchesters, Gordons, and Betty Eveans. The Bantas use it for an antique store and it was last used as a blacksmith shop by Wilma Crane’s bother. It was customary in the early years of Marvin for the farmers to furnish their tenants during the year and they would pay back in the fall when crops were gathered. Or merchants would credit customers until fall when they would pay. There were at least two other stores in Marvin. Mr. Clyde Ezzell and one where Bill’s old brick house now stands. He sold caskets too. At one time there was a store across the road from Deadwylers. There was also one at the corner of Marvin road and 521.
Early Roads and Automobiles
If you traveled from 521 to 16 before this road was paved in 1948, you would go where Mrs. Therrell’s trailer is, cross six mile creek farther down than where the bridge is now. You would follow the present road to the top of the hill, bear to the right where the trailer park is now and from the state line through Marvin and before you get to Janie Vaughn’s bear left behind her house, then straighten out before you get to Tark Hill branch and on to 16. Highway 16 was this side of the Milas Howey house and Mrs. Herby’s home. At first there were not bridges, they forded the creeks.
the Marvin-Harrison, Marvin-Weddington and Marvin-Waxhaw roads were paved in the 1950-1960s. Kerr road and Crane roads were paved later.
Mr. John Hall, who lived across the road from where Robert Earl and Nellie White now live, owned the first automobile in the area.
Telephones and Electricity
Mr. Frank Crane owned the first telephone system though Marvin, it was in his store. (His store was not the building that was Banks chapel) it was moved there later. Miss Jennie Helms was the switchboard operator.
Electricity was put through Marvin in 1938.
Government and Taxes
The people of Marvin formerly went to the local stores to vote in the elections, now the voting places are more sparsely situated. In April, 1983, by a 126-105 vote Marvin voted not to incorporate as a town. There were 245 registered voters in Marvin then. Here is a census report for the year 1940 with lists a lot of information about our Marvin people.
James A. Cunn, one of our first settlers was a very influential member of the House of Representatives and became the first member from Union county in the General Assembly from North Carolina.
Earl Ezzell served in the N.C. House of Representatives in the early 1920s.
Frank Lathan Crane served many years as N.C. Secretary of Labor.
There was a good newspaper published in 1902 in Waxhaw by Mr. P.T. Way. The Monroe Enquirer was established in 1872 by W.C. Wolfe and W. J. Boylin. B.C. and Eugene Ashcroft bought the paper in 1893. It was sold several years ago and the name changed to Monroe Journal.
In the history of about 230 years, Marvin has grown in population. It was slow — beginning with a few sparsely settled families with large tracts of land to several housing developments with small lots and large homes. Marvin has changed from a farming community to a residential area. Very few (less than a dozen) farmers are left in the general area.
Country Doctors of Marvin
Dr. William A. McIlwain was born 1818 and died 1894, was the son of Charles and Margaret Ardrey McIlwain. He married Lavincy Potts, had 7 children, one named Lavenia, who married Dr. J.J. One, who also practiced medicine in Marvin. Dr. McIlwain was one of the founders of Banks church and died in the church.
Dr. James Jon rone was born in Marvin in 1855, son of Captain and Mrs. Loyd Rone. He married Lavenia McIlwain. They had two daughters, one (Blanche) married James Potts Ardrey (Lavenia Kell’s mother). He practiced medicine in the Marvin community from 1889 until his death in 1898.
Dr William A. Ardrey. He and his wife, Mary, sailed for America on the first boat leaving Ireland after the Declaration of Independence. They landed at Charleston and settled and practiced medicine over an area of 12 miles in the corner of Union, Mecklenburg and Lancaster counties.
Dr. James T. Kell-born 1834, died 1910. He married Mary Susan Morrow. They had seven children, three were physicians. He practiced in Marvin.
Cr. Samuel Howard Ezzell — born 1873, died 1936, married Brenda Thompson. His parents were Thomas Jefferson Ezzell and Amanda Still Howard. He practiced medicine from here to Tirzah.
There were not hospitals near (if at all) when these doctors practiced, health care was dependent on these doctors.
IN the Revolution, we had battle near here — the battle of Waxhaws. Marvin had at leas one man who served in the Revolution, sir Frederick Ezzell. You may read in Miss Jennie’s article about the other veterans of Spanish American War, World War I, and World War II.
We had one military base in this county during World War II — Camp Sutton, named for Frank Howie Sutton, the first Union County casualty, killed in the air force. Camp Sutton covered 860 acres, opened March 7, 1942, closed after 1945, and is now Sutton Park. The smokestacks for incinerators were left as landmarks until 1980 when the were demolished.
One Marvin resident, Joe King, served in the military during the Korean conflict, but was not in combat. I do not know of any who served in Vietnam, but there may have been some.
Crime in Marvin
We had at least one murder during the early years of the settlement. Jefferson Dunn, young man (born 1850) was shot by an unidentified man who came to the Dunn him and asked directions to Howey’s house on January 26, 1877. There have been at least two more murders in the general area since then. But considering the size of the area of Marvin and the population now, I would consider us having a low crime rate.
Old Waxhaw Presbyterian church — Most of the settlers in this area were Scotch Irish and most were Presbyterians. However there were a few Germans in this area and they attended the old Morning Star Lutheran church. The oldest church building erected in this area was the old Waxhaw Presbyterian church located in what was then North Carolina. It was first used as a school during the week and was used as a hospital during the Revolution.
It was organized in 1760. It’s not far from Andrew Jackson’s birthplace. Andrew Jackson’s mother, Elizabeth Jackson, and his two brothers, Hugh and Robert are buried there. Also William Davis, once governor of N.C. and founder of the University of N.C. at Chapel Hill.
This section of N.C. (this area) considering its size, has produced more distinguished people than anywhere else int eh United States. When plans were underway for the establishment of the Ul.S. Military academy, the influence of this and surrounding communities was so strong that one more vote would have brought the academy here.
The cemetery at old Waxhaw cemetery is so very interesting with its many stones, inscribed on these stones is much history. The f is used for the s on most of these.
Providence Presbyterian Church
This church was founded in 1757 by the early settlers who were predominately Scotch-Irish. Its first congregations were addressed by a minister standing on a large rock in the grove. In 1767, a log building was erected on the hill above the spring. It was named “Providence” meaning symbol of God’s protecting care. The land was deeded to the church by David Rae and J. M. Matthews. The name Providence was adopted from a congregation in Pennsylvania. Providence has a brass marker that reads “Providence 1730.” The settlers brought it with them from a church by that name.
The second church sanctuary and session house was built in 1804. The third and present sanctuary was built in 1858. It still has the slave gallery upstairs.
Providence church and community has a wealth of history that really has to be incorporated into our community history. Our early settlers were mostly Scotch-Irish Presbyterians and members of Providence congregation: the Robinsons, Stitts, Dunns, Andrew Jackson Ezzell — the other Ezzells were Baptists, members of old Sugar Creek (Flint Hill) church. Also the Aarron Howeys, Stephensons, Parks and others were members. Three of Providence members, Neill Morrison, John Flennigan, and Henry Downs, signed Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.
Banks Presbyterian Church
Banks church was so named for Rev. William Banks of Fort Mill, S.C, while he was pastor of Trinity and Providence in the early 1870s. He preached by appointment at Wolfsville until 1875 when Marvin church was completed and invited them to move their appointment there. Rev. G. S. Robinson came twice a month from his home near Barry Hemby’s present home to preach. In 1881 the Rev. W. E. McIlwain then pastor of Hopewell church, after consulting with the people of the community decided that the time had come for the Presbyterians to have a church of their own. He began securing subscriptions and a modest frame building was built that year. It was located on the to now occupied by the cemetery, which was donated by Dr. and Mrs. William McIlwain, MD. The first building was used as a chapel for eight years. In 1910 the congregation decided to build a new church and present Banks church was dedicated in August, 1911. The first church was moved down the road and is the old store building.
The earliest stone in Banks cemetery is that of John N. Ross, died March 28, 1847. It was moved from Union to Banks cemetery. The fellowship hall of Banks was built in the 1950s or 1960s, also the manse. Rev. Hoague was the only Banks minister who lived in the manse. He ministered at several other churches while pastoring Banks. The manse has been rented to several different families since that time and the church has had retired ministers to preach.
Old Six Mile Presbyterian Church
In connection with Banks church, I would like to mention Six Mile Presbyterian church. There are not enough Presbyterians in that area of the panhandle — the church is closed except for one service each year, homecoming in August when the Banks congregation goes there for service and lunch. They still have their original collection of bags on long poles. There is a large cemetery back of the church which is a beautiful brick structure on a hill facing Highway 521 before you get to 12 mile creek. This is the second church, the first church was located where the old Six Mile cemetery is (near Wilsons).
Belair United Methodist Church
I mention Belair because it and Weddinton churches are much older than Marvin Methodist. Belair church was first called “Mount Arrarat.” The seven acres of land was deeded for a church on October 8, 1841 by the village postmaster D. M. Hagans. The church was erected in 1841-42. Why and when it ws changed to Belair is unknown. The second building was built in 1882. There was a camp meeting arbor near the church and the people were summoned to the services by someone blowing a conch shell used as a horn. The resent church was built in 1919. It had a sanctuary and one class room. In 1931-32 two classrooms were added. In 1948-49 seven additional rooms were added. In 1957-58 the basement of the church building was excavated and Sunday School rooms, hallways and restrooms were added. The church was brick veneered. The interior of the church was completely renovated. Stain glass windows were added in 1982. Belair will soon be 150 years old.
Weddington Methodist Church
Wedding ton church was in existence long before Marvin church was organized but it only had a few members and services only once a month. It was 1823 when the people started raising money for a church at “Crossroads” (now Weddington). It was first called Sandy Ridge church and was in the Sugar Creek circuit, now Charlotte district.
About 1900 Mr. Reuben Weddington gave land and money to the church. The name was changed to Weddington to honor him. The church was built at the present location. Since then, the present church has been built. Classrooms and fellowship hall have been added.
Wedding ton academy was built across the road from the church. Many Marvin ladies got their formal education there. It was under church control until 1925 when it was sold to the county, and was used as an elementary school. After it was closed with the consolidation of the elementary schools in 1974, the church rented it as a community center for a few years and when the county sold it the church bought it.
Pleasant Valley Baptist Church
Pleasant Valley Baptist church was organized Oct. 1, 1859. It was actually a mission church of old Sugar Creek (Flint Hill). sir Frederick Ezzell, his son, Frederick and Frederick’s son, Moses Ezzell’s names (and the names of their slaves) are on the first membership roll of Flint Hill. Sir Frederick died while a member. His son Frederick must have been instrumental in organizing a church nearer home and provided the land, because in his will dated July 5, 1858, he willed his son, Thomas Jefferson Ezzel “the meeting house place on which is a church.” This church was called Buck Hill Baptist church because there was a deer lick where deer came for salt near the church. The church (located where Vaughn Ezzell lives) was moved to its present location in October, 1859 and the name changed to Pleasant Valley Baptist church. The original six acres was given by Robert Crockett Potts. In 1971, the church purchased from the Potts estate about five more acres.
In 1893 a new church was built. In 1920 five Sunday School rooms were built at the rear. Standing timber off the property was used and at a later time pews were made from timber off the property.
In 1953 a new church was started. In 1958 the pastorium was built. The church was then 100 years old.
The educational building was erected in 1978-1979. A new building is being built at this time. The church is 138 years old.
Pleasant Hill Methodist Church
I wanted to mention Pleasant Hill church because it, like Marvin is a branch of Harrison church. It was founded by D.C. Wolfe, John Wolfe, John Davidson, James Bailes, Lee Patterson and Solomon Harris.
In the year 1886 a large number joined the church due to an earthquake that visited the community on March 22. A revival began shortly after the earthquake and many were converted that never showed any interest before.
The first church was blown away by a cyclone on August 31, 1886. Timbers from the church were found as far away as Marvin. The next building was built in 1890 near the present cemetery. The Sunday School rooms were built in 1918-1922. During 1946-1950 the inside was renovated.
In 1958-1959 a new church was built on the opposite side of the road. Mr. Bill Patterson built the church. During 1978-1979, the church as renovated, adding air conditioning, new carpet and stained glass windows. Since that time, a new educational building has been built. This year Pleasant Hill is 100 years old.
Harrison Methodist Church
It is only fitting to give a brief history of Harrison since it is the mother church of Marvin. Harrison is the oldest Methodist congregation in Mecklenburg county. It began in 1785 with James Jonathan and David Mills its founders. They met in an open air arbor on land they did not own for 20 years. In those days, Harrison was served with circuit riding preachers who got around once every four weeks. These preacher had many hardships, most of them died before they had rendered 12 years of service. in 1800 they were part a total of $80 a year.
Harrison Hood who owned lal the land from Pineville to the S. C. line was approached about building a church on his land. He gave the land, furnished the logs, lumber and slave labor. He never joined Harrison church but remained a member of Unity Presbyterian church. There are several theories on the origin of Harrison churche’s name, one is that it was named for him.
The first church building burned in the 1840s and a new frame church was erected on the site of the present fellowship hall. it had allergies on each side for the slaves.
In 1902, a frame church was built. It burned on March 17, 1984. The church before the one built in 1902 was sold and moved to Pineville where it was the background of Stough Memorial Baptist church.
The parsonage was built in 1950. The fellowship hall was completed in 1954. The new educational building was built in 1972. The new sanctuary was completed in 1985.
Until 1950 Harrison was on the charge with Pineville and Marvin, in 1950 Pineville became a station and we were the Harrison-Marvin charge until 1985 when Harrison became a station and Marvin was assigned to form the Bonds Grove-Marvin charge in the Albemarle district.
It is interesting to note that Francis Asbury visited Harrison church in 1808 and George Washington at breakfast with Samuel Harrison at his home on Washington’s journey from Camden in 1791.
Bonds Grove Methodist church
Bonds Grove began about 1890. Preaching services were fist held in the old bonds Grove school building which stood behind where Jim and Cora Cook lived. A brush arbor was erected behind the old school house and preaching was held under it for some time before the original church was built. The land for the church and cemetery was given by Isaac Bonds and Harvey McManus, with a small amount purchased from a colored man, Jack Moore. The first sermon preached in the church was Sept. 30, 1894.
In the early church services were held only once a month. The minister would walk from Indian Trail on Saturday, spend the night and walk back on Monday.
Some years later Misses Maggie and Sally Ross gave money to have two classrooms added to the church. They lived in what is now ross Town on Crane road and were members of Banks Presbyterian church. They donated to various churches nearby.
In 1950 a new church was begun. All labor was donated and some of the materials. The old church was sold at auction.
in 1960 a store building was donated to the church and renovated for a club building.
In 1970 a new Educational building was dedicated. It was built in 1968-1969.
In June 1984, G. E. Rogers of Raleigh donated land for personage. The Rev. Ben Matzo and Rev. Nick rochester have lived in the personage.
Bonds Grove was first on the Washaw circuit, then changed to the Weddington charge, then the Camp Ground charge (4 churches). In 1981 it became a single appointment served by a student pastor. In 1985 Marvin church was moved from the Harrison-Marvin charge in the Charlotte district to make the Bonds Grove-Marvin charge in the Albemarle district.
Marvin Methodist Chruch
Marvin church began about 1862 in the old Stephenson schoolhouse. J.B. Squires and L. K. Rone had been going to Harrison church and they felt the community needed a church closer. A brush arbor wa first built where this church is and was moved across the road while the church was being built. It was built primarily by three men; L.K. One, J. B. Squires, and T. J. Ezzell. Mr. Rone gave the land for the church and parking lot for the buggies. The church was called “Rone’s Chapel” for a short time. It was named Marvin church for Bishop E. M. Marvin when it was dedicated. The community took its name from the church. Bricks for the church were made near where Mr. Joe Kerr lives.
in 1922 the church was widened 12 feet on each side and the present church furniture was bought from Calvary Baptist church in Charlotte. Mr. Job Crane handmade the original furniture when eh church was built.
improvements were made in the sanctuary such as heaters, rooms partitioned off of the sanctuary, new carpet and communion table purchased, painting the exterior and covering the roof, then in 1953-1954 an ell consisting of a fellowship hall, kitchen and bathrooms was completed. Bells from locomotive 5003, Westinghouse locomotives, were donated and installed in June 1954.
Membership grew and there was a need for a larger fellowship building with Sunday School rooms, so under the direction of Mr. Manley Young, architect form Fort Mill, S.C., the building was completed in April, 1967.
In 1968 two pink dogwood trees were planted in memory of Lavonne Yarbrough and Alberta Howey. Some new hymnals were purchased as memorials for Annie Horton and Sara Ezzell. The organ was given by Sara Ezzell’s children. She played for the church for more than 50 years. Mrs. W. E. Russell from Harrison presented the Alter set to the church in 1968. The matching urns are memorials to Mrs. Emma Crane. A bronze plaque in the large Sunday School room is to her honor, she taught Sunday School for 50 years. The baptismal font is a memorial to Laura Nelms, also some hymnals. The pulpit paraments are memorials to F.C. Ezzell Sr. The air conditioners in the sanctuary are memorials to F.C. Ezzell Sr. and F.C. Ezzell Jr.
In 1984 a pink dogwood tree was planted in memory of Miss Virgie Yarbrough.
Recently a memorial garden has been started and fisher girl statue was erected to the memory of Mrs. Bess Crane. Her family donated over an acre of land in 1972 to be used as cemetery space.
Annie Lee Rone was the fist person to be buried in Marvin cemetery. She was the daughter of L.K. One, and died in 1877 at the age of four with measles.
Effie Squires was the first person baptized in the arbor. Lula Squires was the first person to unite with the church on profession of faith.
Dr. W.D. Lee was the fist pastor of Marvin church. 44 pastors and 39 District superintendents have served this church since its founding.
Since the church was built in 1874, 12 wedding have been performed in the church: Jennie Rone and William Ardry; Virginia Crane and John Leathers; Madeline Yarbrough and David Hawfield; Marjorie Ezzell and B. C. Fincher; Rugh Ingram and Jimmy Matthews; Mary Ethel Pierce and Ho race Lathan; Verline yarbrough and Neil Glenn; Ann Ezzell and Billy Ray Alexander; Marsha Gordon and Gary Nelms; Kathy Williams and Elliott; Barbara Banta and Lee Collins and Paula Blackwelder and Douglas Schaver.
Download the PDF: History of Marvin