By Keith Strange Staff Reporter
December 10, 2013
Attention civic groups, clubs, organizations like the Boy Scouts and even the Surry County Junior Historians: county board of commissioners Chairman Eddie Harris has issued a call to arms.
To locate and restore three historical markers related to Daniel Boone that have gone missing over the years.
During the Dec. 2, board of commissioners meeting, Harris noted that the markers have been lost through time and said the time is right to find them and give the legendary trailblazer his due.
“Daniel Boone was my childhood hero, and I spent countless hours in the woods playing with my powder horn, toy musket and coonskin cap,” he said with a smile.
Boone and the Yadkin Valley
Harris said that during his life, Boone spent “quite a bit of time in the area.”
“He lived near present-day Mocksville in the Yakdin Valley, he owned property there and married Rebecca Bryan, whose family also lived in the area,” he said.
While he doesn’t believe Boone ever owned property in Surry County, Harris noted that his wife’s family owned a lot of property in the county.
“But I do know that he spent a lot of time in the area after moving here from Pennsylvania,” Harris said. “This was his home base while he made several treks over the Blue Ridge exploring what was known as the ‘back of beyond’.
“He blazed a trail across the Cumberland Gap to Kentucky, and during this time he took his family with him and spent long periods of time on the scouting trip, but he always came back to this area. His children were raised here. His in-laws owned lots of property here, and this was his home.”
Which stands to reason that when North Carolina chartered the Boone Trail Highway Memorials Association in 1913, Mount Airy, Surry County and the Yadkin Valley would play a role.
“J. Hampton Rich was a historian and was the driving force behind the Boone Trail Highway Memorials,” Harris said. “He wanted to memorialize his accomplishments through a series of highway markers.”
Which led Rich to contract with a foundry to design and cast large bronze plaques with an image of Boone that would be placed in towns and communities along the highways of many different states.
“The metal used to cast these plaques were from the battleship Maine, which was sank during the Spanish American War,” Harris noted.
Markers Missing in Mount Airy and Pilot Mountain
There were four markers placed in Surry County, one in Elkin, one in Pilot Mountain and two in Mount Airy.
“The marker in Elkin has recently been re-cast from the original mold and re-dedicated,”
Harris said. “It sets in an eight-foot arrowhead made of Mount Airy granite. Local folks in Elkin raised money for the project and now it’s where it belongs.”
The Elkin effort was spearheaded by the Elkin Valley Trails Association, and led by Joe Hicks, who has a keen interest in county history.
But three more are missing, and Harris suspects they may be collecting dust in a long-forgotten corner of a storage room somewhere.
“I personally believe these missing markers still exist somewhere,” he said. “I can’t imagine they would have been thrown away or melted for scrap. Hopefully, some forward-thinking person, when they realized their significance when they were removed, still has them for safekeeping.”
And he asks for the community’s help.
“It would be my hope that the citizens of Surry County, a club or a group, could undertake the effort to go on a treasure hunt to locate the missing Surry County markers,” he said. “This would be a wonderful project if some group like the Boy Scouts could find the marker and undertake the restoration and placement of them in a place of prominence.
“I’m sure the citizens of this county would raise the money and work with the granite quarry to have the large eight-foot tall arrowheads made just as Elkin has, find these plaques, re-mount them and put them back where they belong.
“Daniel Boone played such an important role in our area’s history and the history of this country,” Harris added. “He was a family man, a hunter, a woodsman, an explorer and a trailblazer, and his memory is worth preserving for future generations.”
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.