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THE LOWE FAMILY OF WILKES COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA, The home of Joshua Lowe, Jr.

General Background:

The Lowe Family is of English origin, the name being derived from an old English word meaning "hill". The first man to bear Lowe as a surname probably lived on or near a hill and was thus referred to as "John on the Lowe" or William near the Lowe." The name is common in England, and is also found in the Lowlands of Scotland. Many of the English Lowes migrated to the American colonies as far back as the seventeenth century. Thomas Low migrated from England to Massachusetts about 1640 and established a notable familyin that state which produced such prominent citizens as General Caleb Low, a colonial soldier in Massachusetts, and-in more modern times - Seth Low, who became Mayer of New York City and president of Columbia University.

In Maryland, another Prominent family of the name was established by Major John Lowe (died 1701), who came from England to St. Mary's County, Maryland, in the seventeenth century. The Lowes were particularly numerous in the colony of Virginia; eleven men bearing this surname are listed among those who were transported to Virginia in the early and middle years of the seventeenth century--Barnaby, Francis, Harry, John, Peter, Philip, Richard, Robert, Thomas and William Lowe. During the eighteenth they spread into many counties in Virginia, among them the counties of Prince George, Norfolk, New Kent, Essex, Prince William, Amelia and Bedford, as well as some counties which are now in the state of West Virginia.Until comparatively modern times, the spelling of this surname varied considerably. Lo, Loe, and Loo are spellings occasionally found in old records, but Low and Lowe have ben the standard spellings used by family for several centuries. In general, the Northern families (stemming from the Massachusetts line) tend to use the shorter form, while the Southern representatives of the name now usually add the terminal "e." The Lowes Of Wilkes: At present, the early origins of this family have not been learned. Our first certain knowledge of them is their arrival in what is now Wilkes County shortly before the American Revolution, from the colony of Virginia--probably Bedford County. Whether they were decended from some of the early and numerous Lowe immigrants to Virginia, or from some ot the Lowe families in Maryland or the Northern states, is yet to be determined.

The migration of the Lowes into the present Wilkes County occurred between 1766 and 1772. The first record of them in North Carolina is their appearance in the Surry County tax list of 1771 and 1772.

In 1771, Isaac "Loo" and William "Lo" were listed in Surry. They appear again the following year, along with three more Lowes--Caleb, John and Thomas. All of these settled in that portion of Surry which became Wilkes County in 1778, chiefly on the waters of Moravian Creek and Cub Creek, in the present Moravian Falls and Wilkesboro. The relationship of these early Wilkes County Lowes to each other is uncertain, though obviously they were all closely related. It is probable that most or all of them were brothers; but there is a good possibility that Isaac Lowe could be the father of some or all of the others. Isaac Lowe, Sr.(sometimes so distinguished in the records to avoid confusion with several with later Isaacs) appears to have been the oldest and wealthiest of these pioneer Lowes, and at least two of the others had sons namrd Isaac; all of which suggests that he may have been the patriarch of the Wilkes County family.

Isaac Lowe, Sr. took up several valuable tracts of land on Moravian Creek, for which he subsequently received State Grants when North Carolina became an independent state. Eventually he disposed of all these lands by deed, his last appearance in the Wilkes deed records being in 1801, when he sold the remaining part of his home plantation to Nathan Brown; he had previously sold other portions of his home place to Benjamin Hubbard and to William McGee (who had married Sarah Lowe in 1794). McGee later sold his place to Isham Hubbard, who subsequently became the father-in-law of Joshua Lowe Sr. Whether Isaac Lowe Sr. died in Wilkes, or removed from the county in his last years, is uncertain. He may have gone to Tennessee or Kentuchy with other of the family. Of the other early Lowes in Wilkes, William died in 1788 and left a will in Wilkes which mentions his wife, Mary, sons, Isaac, Isaiah, John and David; and grandson, Stephen Low. All of this family seems to have left Wilkes County around 1800; in 1799, William's former homeplace on Moravian Creek was sold by his three younger sons (Isaiah, John and David) to Sherod Stephens. One David Lowe was married in Wilkes 1807 (to Elizabeth Vickers), and a John Lowe was living in Wilkes as late as 1820, but it is not certain that they were William's sons of those names; they could be the sons of the numerous unidentified sons of Caleb Lowe.

Nothing further is known of the John Lowe who was one of the original group of Lowes to settle in Wilkes; but he could have been the husband of the widow Rachel Lowe, another of the pioneers, settled on Little Cub Creek, but both he and two younger Lowes who lived on that stream--William"Jr." and Samuel--dispeared from the Wilkes records in the early ninteenth century. William Lowe "Jr." sold out on Little Cub Creek in 1805, so it was probably about that year that this group removed from the county. Another Lowe who is missing from the early Surry tax lists but who was in Wilkes County by 1778,was Aquila Lowe, who had a 500-acre grant on both sides of Moravian Creek. He did not remain in Wilkes lomg, but removed to Green County, Tennessee, where he established Lowe's Fort, which was used during the later years of the American Revolution.

The remaining member of the original group of Lowes in Wilkes is Caleb Lowe, the ancestor of the family that remains in Wilkes. Caleb was apparently born about 1750, and was a young man when the family first settled in Wilkes; he married about 1772, probably to a Wilkes County girl whose name is not known to us at present. It is possible that she may have been a Mitchell, as the family of that name were close neighbors and associates of the Lowes; the lands of Caleb Lowe adjoined those of Joshua Mitchell, and Caleb named his eldest son Joshua, which was the favorite given name for boys in the Mitchell family for many generations.

Caleb Lowe settled on the Falling Fork of Moravian Creek, on which land adjoining that of Issac Lowe, Sr. who may have been his father. Caleb's homeplace also adjoined the lands of Joshua Mitchell, as just mentioned, and those of Solomon Greer (who married Hannah Lowe). The Greers were another family closely associated with the Lowes, and the use of certain given names in both families-such as the unusual given name Aquila-suggests the possibility that there may been an earlier connection between the families. The Greers originally came from Baltimore County, Maryland, although they had--like the Lowes--resided in Virginia for some years before coming to Wilkes County.

Caleb Lowe was living in Wilkes as late as 1801, but it is uncertain whether he remained in the county until his death, or when he died. Nothing has been found in the Wilkes County records so far to cast any light on the history of his last years; but it is likely that he died in Wilkes before 1810 and his lands on Falling Fork may have been part of the property on which his son JOSHUA lived and died.

The Wilkes County census returns of 1790 and 1800 show that Caleb Lowe had a large family of children, of whom it is possible to identify only a few, since Caleb left no will in Wilkes, nor are there any registered deeds from his heirs. Caleb Lowe had at least seven sons and four daughters; circumstantial evidence indicated that the sons included JOSHUA, Issac, Isaiah, and perhaps John and David; and that one of the daughters was Mary Lowe, who married (1799) Philip Price, and became the ancestors of the numerous Price families now found in Wilkes and Caldwell Counties.

Caleb's probable son Isaiah Lowe (born 1790) married (1834) Nancy Person, and settled in the present Alexander County. The Lowes now living in Wilkes County are the descendants of JOSHUA LOWE, who was born 1774/75 in Surry (now Wilkes) County, and died in Wilkes in 1841. He was evidently the eldest son of Caleb Lowe of Falling Fork, and Joshua himself lived and died on a farm of 120 acres on the lefthand fork of the Falling Fork of Moravian Creek, which probably either adjoined or included the place on which his father Caleb Lowe had lived earlier. The Falling Fork is apparently the stream sometimes mentioned in deeds as Lowe's Fork of Moravian Creek. There are no registered Wilkes County deeds to Joshua Lowe, so it is uncertain whether he inherited this land or acquired it by purchase. He seems to have been a respectable citizen, a small farmer of moderate means; one circumstance that probably gave him some special standing in the neighborhood was the fact that he could read and write, in a day when a large portion of the population of the state could do neither.

Joshua Lowe was married twice, and by these two wives apparently had (on the basis of evidence of the census returns) a total of fourteen children-- five sons and nine daughters. Hawever, several of these children probably died early in life. His first marriage, in October 1805, was to Mary Teague (commonly called Polly), the younger daughter of Michael Teague, who lived in the Little River section of what is now Alexander County. Polly was a step-daughter og John Marley Jones, Esq., a leading citizen of the Little River county. She apparently died about 1815, leaving three daughters, and probably also a son who died young. Two daughters have been identified: Rosanna H. Lowe (born 1807), who married John McLeod Frazier, a blacksmith of Scottish parentage, and died near Lenior, where they have left descendants; and Elizabeth Lowe, who married John McKay (McCoy) of Alexander County. Joshua Lowe married secondly (marriage bond dated 9 June 1818) LUCINDA Hubbard (born about 1794, in Virginia), usually called "Lucy," eldest child of Isham Hubbard, Esq. a magistrate and farmer on Moravian Creek who had migrated from Virginia (probably Pittsylvania County) to Wilkes by 1803, when he purchased from William McGee a farm on Moravian Creek which had previously been part of the original home plantation of Isaac Lowe, Sr. Isham Hubbard was married twice and left numerous children; Lucy was the eldest child of his first marriage. By his first marriage to Lucinda Hubbard, Joshua Lowe apparently had four sons and six daughters; one son probably died young and unmarried, and perhaps some of the daughters. Unfortunately, the will of Joshua Lowe Sr. does not specify the names of any of his children except the three surviving sons who were to inherit the real estate.

This will (Wilkes County Will Book 4, page 269) is dated 30 September 1841, and was probated at November Term (of the County Court) 1841, si it is probable that it was written when the testator was dying. The only witness to the will was Mrs. Elizabeth (Hubbard) Hubbard, Lucy's stepmother. The terms of the will specify that the property is to be held togather by his wife Lucy until the youngest child comes of age, and Lucy herself resolves a life interest in the land. The dwelling house with 25 acres around it is left to "my youngest boy, James Martin," while the remainder of the land is to be divided at their mother's death between "my two other boys" Caleb and Joshua, Jr. The testator's wife Lucy and his son Caleb are named executors of the will. Though this will was probated, its terms did not go unchallenged, since their effect was to disinherit automatically most of Joshua, Sr. children. In April 1844, a petition was filed in the Equity Court of Wilkes County by John McKay (who married Elizabeth Lowe) and others, seeking to have the lands of Joshua Lowe, deceased, sold at public auction and proceeds divided among all the heirs. A year later the Court granted the petition, and the lands were sold to Joseph M. Bogle of now Alexander County, who owned much real estate in that part of Wilkes County. As a result of this proceeding, the widow Lucy and her unmarried children lost their home, and she was obliged to take up some vacant land in the same vicinity, on which she settled. In 1854, she obtained a State Grant for 100 acres on the east prong of the Falling Fork of Moravian Creek, and it was on this place that she spent her remaining years. In 1864, towards the end of the Civil War, she made a Gift Deed for her homeplace to three of her children--Names: (Martin) Lowe, Eliza C. (Lowe) Clanton, and Miss Jane C. Lowe. The land is described in this deed as adjoining the Prices--Descendants of Joshua Lowe's sister, Mary, first wife of Philip Price. The three surviving sons of Joshua and Lucinda (Hubbard) Lowe were Caleb Anderson Lowe (born about 1821), Joshua Lowe Jr. and Martin Lowe. Of these, Martin was still a minor at the time of his father's death. He afterwards fought in the Confederate Army, was married twice (first to Clarinda Laws, secondly to her cousin Matilda Kilby), and left issue by both wives.

Caleb Anderson Lowe was the eldest of Joshua's surviving sons, and was named as co-executor in his father's will. He was twice married, and raised a large family in Moravian Falls township. By his first wife (Lydia Brown) he was the father of John A. Lowe (1850-1915), who married Minda Dowell, daughter of Joshua and Dicey E. (Watkins) Dowell; they were parents of Carl Arthur Lowe (1884-1952).

Written by Allen L. Poe

(Contributed by Danny Jones)