The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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        The Schenck family is of Swiss extraction. In 1708, Henry, John, and Michael Schenck, who were Mennonites, where driven out of Switzerland by religious persecution, and being invited by William Penn, they with a number of other colonists, emigrated to the vicinity of what is now Lancaster City, Pennsylvania.

        In 1729, these colonists were naturalized by a special act of Parliament on account of "their industry and their peaceable and religious conduct."

        Michael Schenck who sprung from one of these three brothers, was born February 28, 1737, and Michael Schenck, his son, was born near Lancaster, February 15, 1771. He immigrated to North Carolina about the year 1795. He was married, May 11, 1801, to Barbara, daughter of Daniel Warlick, who was killed in a fight with the Indians, on the Ohio frontier.

        In the year 1815, Michael Schenck erected a Cotton Factory on Mill branch, two miles east of Lincolnton.

        We were shown two spindles which were used in this, perhaps, the first cotton factory erected south of the Potomac river.

        It was rather a rude structure, compared with our modern machinery. The whole consisting of only seventy-five spindles, the iron shafts of which were made in a blacksmith shop, by David Warlick, who was a superior workman in his day; and the spools and other wood work were made by Michael Beam, a neighbor of Warlick. The house containing the machinery, was a simple log structure twenty-five feet square.

        The spinning was done by means, of what machinists call a mule--the thread being drawn out horizontally and then wound on broaches. It was then reeled, and sold as fast as it could be manufactured at fifty cents per pound in specie.

        This factory was erected and put in operation by Michael Schenck, who had emigrated to this county from Pennsylvania. It was placed on Mill branch two miles east of Lincolnton, and the first yarn was made in the year 1815.

        This proved profitable enough to justify Mr. Michael Schenck in sending to Providence, Rhode Island, for more improved machinery, which was put in operation on the same site in 1818. This, in its turn, was laid aside, and Mr. Schenck, in copartnership with the late Colonel John Hoke, Sr., of Lincolnton, and Dr. Bivings, erected the large factory, on the south fork of the Catawba, two miles south of Lincolnton, but this was burned in 1863.

        His son, Dr. David Warlick Schenck, son of Michael, was born at Lincolnton, February 3, 1809, and was educated at the Academy of that town. He studied medicine with Dr. James Bivings, and afterwards attended lectures at Jefferson College, in Philadelphia. He married Susan Rebecca Bevens, daughter of Simeon and Eliza Bevens, November 8, 1882, by whom he left two children, Barbara and David. He was eminent as a surgeon and one of the best read men in the State. He died at Lincolnton, December 26, 1861, a very encyclopedia of information.

        His son, David Schenck, the subject of this sketch, was born at Lincolnton. March 24, 1835, and was educated at the Academy, principally by Silas C. Lindslay, an eminent teacher of that day.

        He read law two years with Haywood W. Guion and obtained his County Court license in June, 1856. He then went to Judge Pearson's Law School, at Richmond Hill, till June, 1857, where he obtained his Superior Court license, and settled immediately in Dallas, Gaston county, North Carolina. He was elected County Solicitor, and enjoyed a lucrative practice at once.

        On August 25, 1859, he married Sally Wilfong Ramseur, daughter of Jacob A. and Lucy D. Ramseur, and sister of Major General S. D. Ramseur.

        In November, 1860, he returned to Lincolnton, his native place, and in 1861, on the election
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