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Home North Carolina McDowell County City of Woodlawn Historical Markers Cathey's Fort

Cathey's Fort

NC-226, Woodlawn, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 35° 48' 25.2", -82° 3' 37.1052"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"A rendezvous for the North Carolina militia led by General Griffith Rutherford against the Cherokee in 1776, was one mile east."
     Cathey’s Fort in northern McDowell County was a rendezvous point for the militia assembled by Griffith Rutherford in preparation for his expedition against the Cherokee in September 1776. Rutherford, brigadier general of the Salisbury District militia, that summer called for volunteers to conduct the expedition. With militia reporting from several western counties, Rutherford gathered about 2,500 men and enough supplies for forty days afield. From Davidson’s Fort (Old Fort) Rutherford and his men set out on September 1. Prior to their assembly at Davidson’s, men of the expedition gathered or camped at other points to the east and north, among those Quakers Meadows and at or near Cathey’s Fort.

     Cathey’s Fort was on land around the headwaters of the North Catawba River. Pension statements of those who participated in the expedition reveal that some joined the party at Quaker Meadows, others at Cathey’s Fort, others at Pleasant Gardens and many at Davidson’s. The diary kept by William Lenoir remains the key primary source for documenting the course of the expedition. On the return trip Lenoir recorded: “On Friday 4th (October) we xd the Ridge though very slippery & the horses would slip sometimes 20 or 30 feet but all got over & Campt just below Cathey’s fort & Colo. Armstrong treated with 6 gals. Brandy.”

     In 1777, the year after the expedition, Waightstill Avery instructed Gov. Richard Caswell on a route sending him by “Cathey Fort on Head of the Cataba River.” Lyman Draper in his book on Kings Mountain in 1881 wrote that the Overmountain Men in 1780 had visited many of the same camp sites used by Rutherford’s troops including the Cathey homestead and Pleasant Gardens.

     Local historian Mary Greenlee assisted Archives and History in 1952 with identifying the general location of Cathey’s Fort by providing references to land grants placing William Cathey on tracts on the headwaters of the North Catawba River. By her account Cathey in 1781 transferred ownership of the property to William Wofford. In time her own family, the Greenlees, acquired the property. When she was writing, the Cathey-Wofford-Greenlee House was still extant, although removed from its original site.

William L. Saunders and Walter Clark, eds., The Colonial Records of North Carolina and The State Records of North Carolina
Roy S. Dickens J., “The Route of the Expedition Against the North Carolina Cherokees,” Southern Indians Studies (1967): 3-24
J. G. deRoulhac Hamilton, ed., “The Revolutionary Diary of William Lenoir,” Journal of Southern History, VI (May 1940)
Samuel A. Ashe, “Rutherford’s Expedition Against the Indians, 1776,” North Carolina Booklet, IV, no. 8 (December 1904): 12-13, 17 Mary Elinor Lazenby, comp., Catawba Frontier, 1775-1781: Memories of Pensioners (1950)
Cathey's Fort Historical Marker Location Map, Woodlawn, North Carolina