Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sam Lance and his son John Henry Lance

This is the Rev. John Henry Lance (1834-1888). He was the son of Samuel Riley and Rebecca Hunter Lance. Rebecca was the daughter of my ancestor John Hunter, which makes us first cousins, 3 times removed. He was beheaded, kinda, for preaching against moonshine.

His family, parents and siblings seemed to have kept a hot trail moving back and forth between Union County, Georgia, and Clay County, North Carolina, which was not far away at all.

This paragraph might explain how his father, Samuel R. Lance, came to Union County, to begin with.

A friend of his (Samuel R. Lance), whose name has long since been forgotten, was to have a duel with a fellow from Union County, and as fate would have it he became sick, not being able to fill the appointed date. Dueling custom has it that if you are sick you have the right to name a replacement, so Samuel Lance, being noted as a fighting man, was chosen to fight in his stead. He came to Union County by request, to uphold the honor of a friend, fought the duel and won, leaving his adversary, against whom he had no malice, lying motionless up the ground.

He came to Union County in the Spring of 1839. He returned to Buncombe County and told his brothers and moved his family one year later.

Samuel R. Lance, as mentioned above, was married to Rebecca Hunter, daughter of John Hunter, who also moved to Union County about that time. I thought it might have been a few years earlier, but maybe not. What I am wondering, who came first to Union County and the other followed, Samuel R. Lance or John Hunter?

Getting back to Samuel’s son: Rev John Henry Lance, who used to be wild himself preached against the making of moon shine. On his way walking to church one Sunday morning to preach, at a creek he came upon some that did not appreciate his sermons on moonshine and they had words, which led to violence, which Rev. John Henry Lance neck was cut so deeply his head only hung by the skin.

The book BLOOD MOUNTAIN COVENANT, A SON'S REVENGE tells about it and his sons’ seeking revenge. The author, Charles E. Hill, a retired druggist, is married to one of Reverend John Henry Lance’s descendants. He did a lot of research. It is a good book, based on facts. The only problem I have with it that it is hard to figure out where the facts end Mr. Hill’s elaborations kick in, or is it all fact, quote by quote?

Old Salem Church Cemetery, Union County, Georgia

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Blogger MichaelBains said...

Like so much of History, eh.

3:46 AM  
Blogger El Postino said...

What was the reason for the duel the father fought for his friend?

And getting killed over preaching against moonshine...wow, some folks really loved their corn, didn't they?

4:49 AM  
Blogger ET said...

El Postino & Michael,

They sure did love their corn... and they continued their love up until the early 1960s until they discovered their countrysides were covered with hemp and they found a new love.

I don't know what the original reason for the duel... I suppose back then, if you looked at a man's wife in a flirtatious manner or said anything that was offensive was dueling fuel. I suppose it weeded out the weak, and only us with strong genes got through. ahem.

5:24 AM  
Blogger deborah wilson said...

Sounds like a good book to read. What happened to the Rev was terrible - but it goes to show - sometimes it's best to leave people to their own business. Back in the day, moonshining was a way of life and some folks only source of income. Did it say what happened to Fred Canup, the man who killed Lance?

9:59 AM  
Blogger ET said...

If I remember the book correctly, nothing happened to Fred Canup because he wasn't charged. I think years later they somebody fessed up about Fred.
The Swain brothers were charged with the killing and the one that was the ring leader sent was sent to prison. When he was released many years later he did not return to Union County.
The book is mostly about Rev John Henry Lance's son James "Jim" Washington Lance, and how relentless he was chasing the supposedly killers. He led the posse that captured them.

10:17 AM  
Blogger A Lance said...

John was killed because the moonshiners thought he turned them into the law.

1:37 PM  
Blogger ET said...

A Lance,

That may be partially right but I think there were more to it than that. If you haven't read it already, read Blood Mountain Covenant by Gary Hill. He gives word by word conversations between the two.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Donn Cooper said...

Wow, my girlfriend and I randomly happened by the cemetery on way back to Gainesville from the Ocoee. We were immediately curious about Reverence Lance, as we'd never seen a tombstone quite that specific. Considering the retribution, you'd think that Lance was doing a little more than just preaching against whiskey.

Does anyone know anything about the Self family in the cemetery? It looks as if three members died in 1909.

11:59 AM  
Blogger ET said...

You have two very good blogs. I enjoyed looking at them.

No, I haven't heard anything about the Self Cemetery or how three of its residents met their end the same year.

I'll write the author of "Blood Mountain..." by Charles Hill and ask him.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Donn Cooper said...


Thanks for the compliment--honestly, I wasn't fishing. I care about the food one more than the other (which runs the risk of being overly-digressive and sometimes offensive). I'm just getting to the point where I like the way Rural Pen looks and take the time to post on it.

My family has been farming in Chestnut Mountain in Hall County for over two hundred years. But that's about to be done with, as development has run headlong into the area. The place is hardly what it was five years ago, much less when I was kid. I started visiting all the cemeteries and trying to record the history in order to memorialize a real place and the people that created it before "progress" wiped it away. Suffice it to say, I believe wholeheartedly these stories are important.

OK, I'm ranting and getting ahead of myself... The Selfs are located together in the corner of the Salem cemetery closest to the road as you drive up, the opposite end of Rev. Lance.

Thanks again.

11:05 AM  
Blogger ET said...

I went back and looked at the photos I had of Salem Cemetery and saw no Selfs. But wait! It occurred to me that I only targeted relatives' markers - so, as far as I know, no Selfs are related to mySelf (yuk yuk).

It is sad to see old barns, home place houses and such bulldozed away. It is like erasing our heritage of what we built. Like we never were.

Have you came across any Englands or Hunter graves in Hall County? Plenty of my England and Hunter relatives migrated from Union County to Hall County and some of the next generation migrated from there to Barrow County.

You do have two very good sites.

Eddie Hunter

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have posted a list of graves in Salem Cemetery -

3:57 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

I have posted a list of graves in Old Salem Cemetery -

3:58 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:58 PM  
Blogger Eddie said...

Thank you Kathy!

Eddie Hunter, the blog keeper of Chicken Fat

4:27 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

John Lance is my great-great-great grandfather. When he was buried they had white gloves on his hands, because they were so "cut up" from when he was coming home on horse back and attacked and killed at Wolf Creek. He was not completely beheaded, but just about, and he preached against the "evils of alcohol" which led the canup and swaim family to believe he turned them in for moonshine, which he would have never done, as he stated this on a number of occasions. and while the tombstone says "cunup" murdered him it was actually a Swaim, but they were basically in on it together.

9:37 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

John Lance is my great-great-great grandfather. He was murdered while riding his horse home, along Wolf Creek. His son found him. He was not beheaded but close enough. When he was buried his hands were covered with white gloves, to cover the cuts and damage done to his hands that occurred while trying, in vain, to fight off his attackers. He never preached against moonshine in general, just the evils of alcohol. He would have never turned anyone in, as he said on a number of occasions. The Swaims and Canups ASSUMED it was he who turned them in, and it was not a Canup that killed him, but a Swaim though they were ultimatly in it together.

9:43 PM  

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