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Anne Alston and her father Samuel Yeargain of Yeargain's Chapel

 

On Christmas Eve, 1784, Samuel Yeargain of Warren County, North Carolina, thought to have been born in Wales in about 1730, wrote his will. He named his daughter Anne, wife of (Lt. Col) William Alston of Chatham County, North Carolina, his grandchildren, with the exception of Mary Anne Alston, yet to be born in June of 1785, his baby daughter, Sarah Yancey, and her Yancey aunts and their spouses, his step-daughter Elizabeth Clinch Jones, and the Trustees of his chapel.

Warren County was erected in 1779 but Samuel had been residing on his eleven hundred acres, on Little Pigeon Roost Creek, Pigeon Roost Creek, and Little Stone House Creek plantations for twenty years, since 1759, the former the wedge on the north side of the Roanoke River which had been part of Northampton County, North Carolina. He had outlived three, perhaps four, wives and fathered two children, both girls.
Yeargain lived an eventful life. His marriage to Anne Harris, widow of a Mr. Booth, in Chesterfield County, Virginia, occurred in 1753, according to the "Marriage Agreement" mentioned in the Chesterfield deed book of that date. The deed noted that Anne was to retain autonomy over four slaves "which had been given to her." One, named Bristol, can be traced to Anne's brother, Thomas Harris, Jr., of Henrico County, Virginia, in whose will he left Bristol to his brother Francis, who in turn left the young fellow to his sister, Anne. In Samuel's own will he left a man named "Bristor," probably a misspelling of Bristol to his daughter, Anne Alston. The deed was witnessed by Peter Fizpatrick and Francis Osborne, of Anne's elder sister Edith's family.

We can only imagine that Samuel and Anne heard favorable reports of the Roanoke River valley from Anne's first cousin, the remarkable surveyor and father of Thomas Jefferson, Peter Jefferson. The Fry-Jefferson map, which included Pigeon Roost Creek, was completed in 1751 and published in 1754. In any event, the family departed Yeargain's Dale Parish plantation in Chesterfield County and on 19 February 1759, Yeargain began registering deeds for land in Northampton County.

Following Anne's demise, Samuel married Mary (Gray), widow of Christopher Clinch of Brunswick County, Virginia. The couple witnessed a 4 February 1778 deed in Halifax County, North Carolina. Samuel and Mary were married by 1771, as Samuel was named as administrator of Christopher Clinch's estate in that year. Mary was a daughter of Margaret Taylor and Gilbert Gray, the latter a descendant of "Ancient Planter," Thomas Gray, to Virginia by 1616.

Samuel gained a step-daughter, Elizabeth Clinch, who in 1784, became the wife of Sugars Jones of Warren County.

At some point, probably in the early 1770's, Yeargain built a chapel on his then still Northampton County plantation. It is of interest that (Bishop) Francis Asbury, as per his travel journal, believed himself to have been preaching at Yeargain's Chapel in Brunswick County, Virginia, which came to be known as the southern cradle of Methodism. He was, in reality, barely into current Warren County, North Carolina.

August 1768 Bute County court minutes record that Samuel Yeargain was appointed as overseer of the road from Eaton's Ferry to the Virginia line, leading to Allen's Cove. Matthew Myrick, a chapel trustee, is designated as Esquire in Bute County records, and Samuel Yeargain as processioner of all land on the north side of the Roanoke. In February of 1779, Samuel Yeargain's fence is mentioned as being opposite Colonel Thomas Eaton's former dwelling house, near Talbot's old field. (See accompanying Alston/Yeargain article regarding the relationship between Eaton's wife, Mary Rives, and Edward Rives, husband of Yeargain's granddaughter, Mary Anne Alston.)
Yeargain excerpts from the Journal and Letters of Francis Asbury:

"Lord's day 5 November 1775. Rode about ten miles to Samuel Yeargain's Chapel, and met Brother George Shad-ford. My spirit was much united to him, and our meeting was like that of Jonathan and David." (In England, 1773, John Wesley had written to Shadford, "You must go down to Bristol...I let you loose, George, on the great continent of America. Publish your message in the open face of the sun, and do all the good you can.")

"Saturday 18 November 1775. I came to Samuel Yeargain's, a serious, sensible man. Lord's day. 19. I began and ended the day with God. I had much liberty at the Chapel in discoursing on the subject matter, manner, and end of the apostles preaching."

"Lord's Day, 31 December 1775. Being the last day of the year, we held a watch-night at Samuel Yeargain's Chapel, beginning at six and ending at twelve o'clock. It was a profitable time, and we had much the power of God."

"Saturday 10 June 1780. Rode on to my old friend, Samuel Yeargain....l spoke at the Chapel with great power....Here I was taken sick, I could get no farther; was very bad on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Providence dark; my spirits much dejected."

Before June of 1780, Yeargain married Sarah Yancey (1754-1781), daughter of Hannah (Kimbrough) Alston and Jaconias Yancey of neighboring Halifax County. Hannah, according to Asbury, "was one of the most self-denying women that ever was." Another of Hannah's daughters, Elizabeth, married the outstanding, Eton educated, Rev. John Dick-ens, one of the executors of Samuel Year-gain's will, as well as minister at Wesley Chapel, John Street Church, New York City, the cradle of northern Methodism.

An additional entry in Asbury's journal reads: "Friday, February 1 1782. Brother Samuel Yeargain gave me an account of a light seen by his former wife (Sarah Yancey Yeargain) whilst at prayer one day in a little thicket below the house; she said the light shown all around her, 'above the brightness of the sun.' The remark-able circumstance she had resolved not to communicate even to her husband; on more mature reflection, however, she thought it more proper to tell him; he observed to her, 'Perhaps you will die soon-are you willing?' 'Yes," was her reply, but at the same time expressed her fears of a long illness, 'which,' said she, 'will burden the family.' Within two weeks of this, she died. She was my kind nurse the last time I was in Virginia." (In fact, Warren County.)

Yeargain wrote his will at the end of the same year that the Methodist Episcopal Church became official. He named Nathaniel Macon, Matthew Myrick, and Stephen Shell as Trustees of Yeargain's Chapel. The land on which the edifice was located was inherited by Sarah Yancey Yeargain, who later married Thomas Alston. The couple had no issue but adopted little Sarah Yeargain, daughter of Jarrett Yeargain of Orange County, North Carolina. Jarrett was a son of Rev. Andrew Yeargain. The fate of the chapel is sadly unknown. Its foundation may well be resting under the waters of Lake Gaston.

Samuel was no doubt a brother of early Methodist Circuit Rider, Rev. Andrew Year-gain, of the North Carolina Tar River and Yadkin Circuits. Andrew, a most powerful preacher, was invited in 1789 by German Reform, John Doub, who lived near the Moravian settlement of Bethania in present Forsyth County, to preach at his home. Doub was taken by Yeargain and his Methodist message, thus Doub became the founder of the historic Methodist Doub's Chapel. Our family has continued in the Methodist faith for over two hundred years, in Warren, Chatham, Orange, and Forsyth counties.

 

2004 by  Bebe Johns Fox No portion of this any document appearing on this site is to be used for other than personal research.  Any republication or reposting is expressly forbidden without the written consent of the owner.


 

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