The church in Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden, Germany.

Ramsaur History

Germans and people of that region left the land of their birth because of unbearable conditions, to secure liberty of conviction, a desire for suitable homes, and freedom of conscience. On a plateau of the Dachstein Mountains of the Bavarian Alps, lies the village of Ramsau. Early maps show this Berchtesgadener land village to be in Austria, but in 1809 it was given over to Bavaria, which later became part of Germany. This is where our family is said to have its origins.

The Ramseur family of this country was founded by three brothers who arrived in Philadelphia from Rotterdam. They settled in the well-known Markham tract in the Providence Township of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The first brother to arrive was Dietrich Ramsaur on October 2, 1727 on the ship Adventure Galley. Born in 1690, he was among 53 other families on this ship. His other two brothers, Theodore and Heinrich arrived later. Our family descended from Dietrich only. When they arrived in this country, they spelled their name Rahmsauer.

Generally, during their first days in this country, our ancestors were little seen in public affairs. They did not know the English language, law, and manner. This, along with their constitutional reserve made them for a long time slightly known and often misunderstood. They did not push themselves into prominence but rather honorably pursued their home duties. They were, and still are worthy citizens. They were bent more toward the fruitful solutions of the rural community, with a financially profitable vocation and a peaceful life. They have always held sacred high principles that secured to them liberty of conscience, health of state, and safety for the morals of home and family.

While still in Pennsylvania, between 1728 and 1742, Dietrich and his wife Kadarina Heil (now Hoyle) Ramsaur, christened six of their children at Saint Augustus German Reformed Church at Trappe. Kadarina is said to have been Dutch. Dietrich purchased lot two of the Markham tract. This tract contained 110 acres. In 1752, he sold his tract, and moved to Lincoln County, North Carolina.

More of North Carolinas population came from Pennsylvania than any other place in the world. It is said that there never was a better population than the Germans that came from Pennsylvania and their descendants. They were described as better citizens and soldiers. They were considered kind, benevolent, well deposed, impelled by persistent energy, sturdy inclination, possessing a solemn esteem with truth and devotion to religious principles. The Germans have made and are still making indestructible footprints of this various sand of life that will remain a memorial to them for all times.

Dietrich was one of the earliest settlers in Lincoln County. On august 10, 1753 Dietrich bought 600 acres in Lincoln County. This tract of fertile land was between the South Fork of the Catawba River and Clarks Creek. On September 24, 1754 he was granted an additional 150 acres. On this property he built a large grist mill known as Ramsour's Mill. More information on the famous Revolutionary War battle follows. The well at his homesite was still standing in 1977, as recounted by John C. Ramsaur (Cousin John).

Dietrich was a shrewd, sound, thrifty, and foresighted man, as evidenced by his gaining possession of many acres of land by entry and purchase. Dietrich erected the above grist mill on one his plantations on Clarks Creek. Power to run the mill was furnished by a race, which ran in a semi-circular course a few hundred yards west of the present bridge on the public road. The southwest abutment of the bridge is situated on the exact spot formally occupied by the foundation of one side of the mill. His mill was a well-known place in colonial times.

Jacob carried out the provisions of the bond and erected for his father the convenient residence near his own immense dwelling. The site of the Jacob Ramsaur mansion and the spacious residence of his father, Dietrich, was on an elevated spot a few hundred feet from Ramsour Mill. These buildings were accidentally destroyed many years ago by fire, but the depressions of the foundation of each are clearly marked. They were said to have been pointed out by an aged descendant of the family who well remembered their stately grandeur. Jacobs plantation adjoins the corporate limits of the present day town of Lincolnton. The South Fork Rivers great bend forms its junction with Clark Creek. Between these two streams was the Jacob tract of land and today one of the finest plantations in Lincoln County.

Jacob, who married Anne Carpenter, died on January 5, 1787 and is buried in a plot alongside his wife near the old homesite. The burial grounds include Christian Reinhardt and members of that family. Christian Reinhardt bought the Ramsour home when his log house was burned. Reinhardt lived there until his death in 1818.

The mill erected by their father, Dietrich, was situated on this plantation and was continued in operation by Jacob. About eight years after the passing of Dietrichs ownership and while Jacob still ran the mill it became very historic. During the American Revolution, here was fought on June 20th, 1780 a battle between the Whigs and the Tories called the battle of Ramsour's mill. This same spot was also again made historic in January 1781 about a month before the battle of Cowans Ford on the Catawba River in eastern Lincoln County. Here was the camping ground of Lord Cornwallis and the English army. While camped here he was on the property of Christian Reinhardt. He made Jacob run the mill night and day and Sundays to supply his armies. The mill was the busy place for his entire section. Being the only one of its kind for many years, ordinary people went there and made camp on the grounds near the mill in order to wait turns to receive supplies. It was also a gathering place of business as well as social affairs. The old highway from Ramsour mill to Warlick's Mill across the South Fork reaps fork just below the present Ramsour Bridge.

Jacobs son, John Ramsour, died January 21, 1857 at 54 years of life. John was married to Elizabeth Warlick Shuford, who died on January 1, 1819. He was called "Gentleman John" and was a captain in the "War of 1812", fighting at the Battle of New Orleans. They are both buried at Daniels Reformed Church. They were the parents of Mary Polly Ramsaur, who married the Millwright Jacob.

David Ramsour, the other son of Dietrich and party to the bond, was born in Pennsylvania on September 23, 1733. His name was originally spelled Davit. He received his plantation about 4 miles up the South Fork River from Jacobs land. This plantation was also situated in a great bend of the river and has many acres of fertile land. David was one of the first settlers in this immediate section. He erected dwelling on this farm of the pioneer type. This house was made of timbers from primitive forest. It was a one story cabin with an overhead loft. The gregstone chimney is entirely within the building, except that part which protruded above the roof. Just above the 7' fireplace is a large wooden mantle. a short distance up the chimney are cross bars used to suspend pot hooks, which held the cooking utensils in position over the fire. The location of this house is an ideal knoll commanding a fine view of the picturesque surroundings. The land sloped gently to the river which was about 40 yards distance. Close by was the rock-walled spring with crystal waters and giant white oak trees.

Near this log cabin was an old red painted mansion, characteristic of the early Dutch built by Davids son, John Ramsour, Esq. Every part of this building was joined by hand-forged nails. This mansion was removed by a previous owner of the property, Thomas J. Ramsour, and another frame building was erected on the same foundation.

A short distance up the river is a brick residence built by Jacob Ramsour (the Millwright Jacob), a grandson of David.

All the above mentioned houses are situated on the ancestral estate, namely the land of pioneer Dietrich Ramsour. These buildings suggest that their respective builders came abreast of the progressive ages from the Revolution through all the labors in peace and horrors of war until the present day. These buildings, the log cabin, frame building with the hand-forged nails, the brick house, and the Thomas J. Ramsour house are almost in view of each other and represent four generations of the Ramsour family.

David Ramsour married Mary M. Warlick in 1759. Of this union was born four sons: John, David, Henry, and Phillip. Three daughters were also born, namely Elizabeth, Barbara, and Margaret. Phillip moved to Cleveland County. Elizabeth became the wife of Daniel Shuford. Barbara became the wife of Jonas Hedick. David died on December 14, 1788 at 53 years of age, and was buried in the family graveyard on his plantation. This burial ground called the Ramsour Cemetery occupies a gentle knoll in the great bottom. Here are buried many of this branch of the Ramsour family.

Davids wife, Mary, born in 1746, is buried beside him. She died October 10, 1818, aged 72 years. Mary was the daughter of pioneer Daniel Warlick, the progenitor of the Warlick (Wahrlock) family in this part of the state. Daniel Warlick erected a grist mill, also. Marys mother was the daughter of Barbara Schlinder Warlick. Her brother, a Torie, died at the battle of Ramsour's Mill. Husband David, a Whig, also fought at the battle.

John Ramsour (September 1766-1844), Esq., son of David, inherited his father's estate and erected near the log cabin a frame building put together with hand-forged nails, as previously mentioned. "Big John" was a prominent planter and represented Lincoln County in the House of Commons during the years 1797- 1798. In 1790 he married Elizabeth Hedick (November 27, 1772- November 27, 1815). They were the parents of five sons, namely, Jonas, who moved to Arkansas, John, Jacob, Andrew, and Daniel. The four last mentioned are also buried in Ramsour Cemetery. Daniel Ramsour inherited his father's estate and lived in the house erected by his father. Andrew Ramsour married Sara Ramsour.

Jacob R. Ramsaur, son of John and Elizabeth H. Ramsaur, was a millwright, and known as the Millwright Jacob. He was born August 6, 1801, and died January 13, 1865. He was called the Millwright Jacob to distinguish him from the other Jacobs. His river bottom farm was next to the ancestral homestead. He married his cousin, Mary "Polly" Ramsaur, daughter of John and Elizabeth S. Ramsaur. Polly was born on June 21, 1803.

As previously mentioned, about 1836, the Millwright erected a fine brick home on what is now State Road 1268 in Lincoln County.

To Polly and the Millwright were born Theodore J., Oliver A., Walter G., and Melville Vardrey Crooks Ramsaur. All were said to be Confederate soldiers. Theodore was an honored veteran of the civil war, losing a leg June 1, 1864 at Cold Harber. His home was on the east bank of the river about a mile above the Ramsour graveyard. Walter G. Ramsaur, son of Millwright Jacob, is buried in the Ramsour cemetery. his tombstone reads In memory of Walter George, son of Jacob Ramsaur, borne June 2, 1836 aged 27 years 4 months and 2 days. Walter was the second of all the Lincoln County volunteers in the War Between the States, to be killed.

On December 21, 1872, their mother, Polly, an invalid, is said to have fallen in her fireplace and burned to death. This story was relayed to James Elliott Ramseur by Cousin John Ramsaur in 1977. He said the imprint of her death on the hearth could still be seen.

As you can see from the above, from the two sons of Dietrich, Jacob and David have descended nearly all the Ramsours in this state.

Henry and John Ramsour were also sons of Dietrich and brothers of Jacob and David. They are almost entirely unknown. Both of them died prior to 1772. Neither of them ever married. Found in an old trunk some years back was the diary of John Ramsour, another son of Dietrich. This buckskin bound diary contained 47 pages. This very clear diary describes the two journeys that John made from Pennsylvania to North Carolina and return. It records all expenses and valuable information concerning the route of travel, cost of equipment, and portraits of other facts of life during that time.

The Ramsaurs are no doubt more closely identified with Lincoln County, North Carolina, than any other family. They have been leaders and builders in every walk and profession. Honest, upright, and dependable. They are the kind of people who make a community worthwhile and substantial. They were in Lincoln County before the Revolutionary War and today represent some of the best families.

It is said that many members of our splendid family share a common characteristic of unusual charm of manner and delightful conversationalist with a pleasing voice. Especially this is true among the women. They seem to be born with pride and intelligence and cordial hospitality. Nature has seemed to endow many of the family with that rare combination of beauty and brains.

Compiled by
James Elliot Ramseur[1]

Edited by
James F. Mauney

More about the Ramsaurs
Ramsaur Family Tree