Biography of Patrick Jack

Patrick Jack had four sons, James, John, Samuel and Robert, and five daughters, Charity, Jane, Mary, Margaret and Lillis, named in the order of their ages. Capt. James Jack, the eldest son, married Margaret Houston, on the 20th of November, 1766. The Houston family came South nearly at the same time with the Alexanders, Polks, Pattons, Caldwells, Wallaces, Wilsons, Clarkes, Rosses, Pattersons, Browns, and many others, and settled mostly in the eastern part of Mecklenburg county (now Cabarrus), and in neighborhoods convenient to the old established Presbyterian churches of the country, under whose guidance civil and religious freedom have ever found ardent and unwavering defenders. The late Archibald Houston, who served Cabarrus county faithfully in several important positions, and died in 1843, was one of this worthy family.

On the 2nd of October, 1768, Captain James Jack, as stated in his own family register, moved to his own place, on the head of the Catawba river, then receiving a considerable emigration. He had five children: 1. Cynthia, born on the 20th of September, 1767. 2. Patrick, born on the 27th of September, 1769. 3. William Houston, born on the 6th of June, 1771. 4. Archibald, born on the 20th of April, 1773 (died young); and 5. James, born on the 20th of September, 1775.

On the 4th of August, 1772, Captain Jack left his mountain home and moved to the residence of his father, Patrick Jack, in Mecklenburg county. On the 16th of February, 1773, he and his father moved from the country, where they had been temporarily sojourning, into “Charlotte town,” prospered in business, and soon became useful and influential citizens.

On the 26th of Sept., 1780, Lord Cornwallis, elated with his victory at Camden, entered Charlotte, with the confident expectation of soon restoring North Carolina to the British Crown. Patrick Jack was then an old and infirm man, having given up the chief control of his public house to his son, Captain James Jack; but neither age nor infirmity could enlist the sympathies of the British soldiery. The patriotic character of the house had become extensively known through Tory information, and its destruction was consequently a “foregone conclusion.” The British soldiers removed its aged owner from the feather bed upon which he was lying, emptied its contents into the street, aid then set the house on fire! The reason assigned for this incendiary act was, “all of old Jack’s sons were in the rebel army,” and he himself had been an active promoter of American independence.

The loss to Patrick Jack of his dwelling-house and much furniture, accumulated through many years of patient toil and industry, was a severe one. The excitement of the burning scene, consequent exposure, and great nervous shock to a system already debilitated with disease, a few months afterward brought to the grave this veteran patriot. His aged partner survived him a few years. Both were worthy and consistent members of the Presbyterian Church, and their mortal remains now repose in the old graveyard in Charlotte.

By the last will and testament of Patrick Jack, made on the 19th of May, 1780, he devised the whole of his personal estate and the “undivided benefit of his house and lots to his beloved wife during her life-time.” After her death they were directed to be sold, and the proceeds divided among his five married daughters, viz.: Charity Dysart, Jane Barnett, Mary Alexander, Margaret Wilson and Lillie Nicholson. James Jack and Joseph Nicholson were appointed executors. It is related of Dr. Thomas Henderson, a former venerable citizen of Charlotte, that, on his death-bed, he requested to be buried by the side of Patrick Jack, “one of the best men he had ever known.”

At the Convention of Delegates in Charlotte on the 19th and 20th of May, 1775, Capt. James Jack was one of the deeply interested spectators, and shared in the patriotic feelings of that ever memorable occasion. He was then about forty-three years of age–brave, energetic and ready to engage in any duty having for its object the welfare and independence of his country. After the passage of the patriotic resolutions, elsewhere given in this volume, constituting the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, Capt. Jack, for his well-known energy, bravery and determination of character, was selected to be the bearer of them to Congress, then in session in Philadelphia. Accordingly, as soon as the necessary preparations for traveling could be made, he set out from Charlotte on that long, lonesome and perilous journey, “on horseback”. There were then nowhere in the American colonies, “stages” or “hacks” to facilitate and expedite the weary traveler. Express messengers were alone employed for the rapid transmission of all important intelligence. On the evening of the first day he reached Salisbury, forty miles from Charlotte, before the General Court, then in session, had adjourned. Upon his arrival, Colonel Kennon, an influential member of the Court, who knew the object of Captain Jack’s mission, procured from him the copy of the Mecklenburg resolutions of independence he had in charge, and read them aloud in open court. All was silence, and all apparent approval (“intentique ora tenebant”) as these earliest key-notes of freedom resounded through the hall of the old court house in Salisbury. There sat around, in sympathizing composure, those sterling patriots, Moses Winslow, Waightstill Avery, John Brevard, William Sharpe, Griffith Rutherford, Matthew Locke, Samuel Young, Adlai Osborne, James Brandon, and many others, either members of the court, or of the county “Committee of Safety.” The only marked opposition proceeded from two lawyers, “John Dunn” and “Benjamin Booth Boote”, who pronounced the resolutions “treasonable”, and said Captain Jack ought to be detained. These individuals had previously expressed sentiments “inimical to the American cause.” As soon as knowledge of their avowed sentiments and proposed detention of Captain Jack reached Charlotte, the patriotic vigilance of the friends of liberty was actively aroused, and a party of ten or twelve armed horsemen promptly volunteered to proceed to Salisbury, arrest said Dunn and Boote, and bring them before the Committee of Safety of Mecklenburg for trial. This was accordingly done (George Graham, living near Charlotte, being one of the number), and both being found guilty of conduct inimical to the cause of American freedom, were transported, first to Camden, and afterward, to Charleston, S.C. They never returned to North Carolina, but after the war, it is reported, settled in Florida, and died there, it is hoped not only repentant of their sins, as all should be, but with chastened notions of the reality and benefits of American independence.

On the next morning, Captain Jack resumed his journey from Salisbury, occasionally passing through neighborhoods, in and beyond the limits of North Carolina, infested with enraged Tories, but, intent on his appointed mission, he faced all dangers, and finally reached Philadelphia in safety.

Upon his arrival he immediately obtained an interview with the North Carolina delegates (Caswell, Hooper and Hewes), and, after a little conversation on the state of the country, then agitating all minds, Captain Jack drew from his pocket the Mecklenburg resolutions of the 20th of May, 1775, with the remark:

“Here, gentlemen, is a paper that I have been instructed to deliver to you, with the request that you should lay the same before Congress.”

After the North Carolina delegates had carefully read the Mecklenburg resolutions, and approved of their patriotic sentiments so forcibly expressed, they informed Captain Jack they would keep the paper, and show it to several of their friends, remarking, at the same time, they did not think Congress was then prepared to act upon so important a measure as “absolute independence”.

On the next day, Captain Jack had another interview with the North Carolina delegates. They informed him that they had consulted with several members of Congress, (including Hancock, Jay and Jefferson,) and that all agreed, while they approved of the patriotic spirit of the Mecklenburg resolutions, it would be premature to lay them officially before the House, as they still entertained some hopes of reconciliation with England. It was clearly perceived by the North Carolina delegates and other members whom they consulted, that the citizens of Mecklenburg county were “in advance” of the general sentiment of Congress on the subject of independence; the phantasy of “reconciliation” still held forth its seductive allurements in 1775, and even during a portion of 1776; and hence, no record was made, or vote taken on the patriotic resolutions of Mecklenburg, and they became concealed from view in the blaze of the National Declaration bursting forth on the 4th of July, 1776, which only re-echoed and reaffirmed the truth and potency of sentiments proclaimed in Charlotte on the 20th of May, 1775.

Captain Jack finding the darling object of his long and toilsome journey could not be then accomplished, and that Congress was not prepared to vote on so bold a measure as “absolute independence”, just before leaving Philadelphia for home, somewhat excited, addressed the North Carolina delegates, and several other members of Congress, in the following patriotic words:

“”Gentlemen, you may debate here about ‘reconciliation,’ and memorialize your king, but, bear it in mind, Mecklenburg owes no allegiance to, and is separated from the crown of Great Britain forever”.”

On the breaking out of hostilities with the mother country, no portion of the Confederacy was more forward in fulfilling the pledge of “life, fortune and sacred honor,” in the achievement of liberty, previously made, than Mecklenburg and several adjacent counties. Upon the first call for troops, Captain Jack entered the service in command of a company, and acted in that capacity, with distinguished bravery, throughout the war under Colonels Polk, Alexander, and other officers. He uniformly declined promotion when tendered, there being a strong reciprocal attachment between himself and his command, which he highly appreciated, and did not wish to sunder. At the commencement of the war he was in “easy” and rather affluent circumstances–at its close, comparatively a poor man. Prompted by patriotic feelings for the final prosperity of his county, still struggling for independence, he loaned to the Slate of North Carolina, in her great pecuniary need, £4,000, for which, unfortunately, he has never received a cent in return. As a partial compensation for his services the State paid him a land warrant, which he placed in the hands of a Mr. Martin, a particular friend, to be laid at his discretion. Martin moved to Tennessee, and died there, but no account of the warrant could be afterward obtained.

Soon after the war he sold his house and lots in Charlotte, and moved with his family to Wilkes county, Ga. Here he is represented, by those who knew him, as being a “model farmer,” with barns well filled, and surrounded with all the evidences of great industry, order and abundance. Here, too, he was blest in enjoying for many years the ministerial instructions of the Rev. Francis Cummins, a distinguished Presbyterian clergyman, who, at the youthful age of eighteen, joined his command in Mecklenburg county, and had followed him to his new home in Georgia–formerly a gallant soldier for his country’s rights, but now transformed into a “soldier of the cross” on Christian duty in his Heavenly Master’s service.

The latter years of Captain Jack’s life were spent under the care of his second son, William H. Jack, long a successful and most worthy merchant of Augusta, Ga. In 1813 or 1814, Captain Jack moved from Wilkes to Elbert county, of the same State. There being no Presbyterian church in reach, of which he had been for many years a devout and consistent member, he joined the Methodist church, with which his children had previously united. He was extremely fond of meeting with old friends, and of narrating incidents of the Revolution in which he had actively participated, and for its success freely contributed of his substance. In the serenity of a good old age, protracted beyond the usual boundaries of life, he cared but little for things of this world, and took great delight in reading his Bible, and deriving from its sacred pages those Christian consolations which alone can yield true comfort and happiness, and cheer the pathway of our earthly pilgrimage to the tomb. He met his approaching end with calm resignation, and died on the 18th of December, 1822, in the ninety-first year of his age. His wife, the partner of his joys and his sorrows through a long and eventful life, survived him about two years, and then passed away in peace.



Hunter, C. L. Sketches of Western North Carolina, Historical and Biographical. 1877.

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