Cultured Wednesday: Pretty Pilot Mountain

Today, we would like to introduce a mountain that has been featured in many paintings and which probably looks familiar to many of you.  It has special significance in our family history as well:  Pilot Mountain in Surry County, North Carolina.

Note: The paintings that follow we found online, and if they are for sale in some way, shape or form, we added links to the respective sites.

pm by diane
The Pilot – Pilot Mountain, by L. Diane Johnson

Pilot Mountain is often considered North Carolina’s natural wonder because it is so unique.  Being a remnant of the ancient Sauratown Mountains, Pilot Mountain is a quartzite monadnock, that is, a mountain that stands way above the surrounding area.  To the native “Saura” Indians, Pilot Mountain was known as Jomeokee, the “Great Guide” or “Pilot” as it guided both Native Americans and early European hunters along a north-south path through the area.  The summit area is off limits to the general public these days, the top being only physically accessible via rock climbing.  The highest point people can get to in Pilot Mountain State Park is the Little Pinnacle, a false summit.

Pilot Mountain by Bernie Rosage Jr
“Pilot Mountain” by Bernie Rosage Jr

Fast forward to the 1960s, and you have a happy little TV sitcom set more or less at the foot of this beautiful rock: The Andy Griffith Show.  And somewhere in between the two, our family history becomes connected to the area, and Denney bones still rest there.

Pilot Mountain In NC by Jason Zhang
“Pilot Mountain in NC” by Jason Zhang

Our first sure Denney ancestor in the United States was Samuel Denney (1635-1710), who came to America from the south-western England, settling first in Tidewater, VA.  One of his great-grandsons, who was born 1715 or 1722, was named after him.  He, in turn, had several sons with whom he came to Surry County, NC “some time before the war”, and settled on “the Hill Farm” on the Ararat River near the mouth of Pilot Creek, just west of Pilot Rock.  This Samuel Denney remained there until he lost his wife Sarah, whose remains now lie under a rock pile on the south side of Pilot Creek, near the mouth, at the foot of the hill.  If you look at a map where Pilot Creek meets the Ararat River, you can see quite well where that would have been.  After his wife’s death, old man Samuel went west with some of his sons and grandsons and died in Gallia County, Ohio, where they had then settled.

pm and stream
Pilot Mountain, NC, and Stream; by Richard Benson

Samuel’s son Azariah (1750 – 1830), the next ancestor in our line, married and settled on the Martin Flinchum farm on Pilot Creek, where he raised twelve children, six boys and six girls.  His son James (1777 – 1860), our 5th great-grandfather, was among the family members that later left the area (between 1812 and 1816) to settle in Gallia County, Ohio, as mentioned above, while old man Azariah lived with his son Jordan on the farm on Pilot Creek until he died.  See why the painting that featured a stream spoke to us especially?

Lastly, one more picture of Pilot Mountain, a photo this time that shows the view so many people are familiar with:  Pilot Mountain from the south on U.S. Route 52.  Got to go visit there one of these days!




6 Replies to “Cultured Wednesday: Pretty Pilot Mountain”

  1. Thank you so much for this. The mystery of our connection with our ancestors is a wonderful one. A few years ago I discovered that among my ancestors (a great great grandfather) was a tailor from Milan who came to London to pursue his business there. I had reason to be in Milan a while back and greeted the ancestors as I emerged from the central railway station. A couple of days later I had time to walk alone about the city and as I did so two people came up to me on separate occasions to ask directions in Italian. That has never happened to me in any other city (except London!) Were they connecting to something in me? I have often wondered.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Fascinating experience! I have no doubt that our ancestors are present within us, quite literally in the blood as well as spiritually in some form, and that this presence makes up at least part of what people see in us. Maybe strangers are more likely to perceive the more hidden ones because they are not so distracted by our current personality.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hadn’t made the connection before, but years ago a job took me to Farmington, NM where the Navajo have Shiprock, an outcropping that eerily stands alone. Similar I guess to the Saura and Pilot Mountain. You do seem to have strong roots in these parts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It just so happens that one of Azariah’s daughters, Sarah “Sally” Denney, who was born at the foot of Pilot Mountain in 1789, died this day, October 3rd, in 1846… It is good to remember our ancestors.

    Liked by 1 person

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