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DAR Headquarters 
Memorial Continental Hall
Washington, D.C.


History of Cabarrus Black Boys


Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, and surrounding counties were settled in part by men and women of Scots and Scots-Irish descent. Following is the story of a band of young Scots-Irish patriots, and how the Cabarrus Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution got the name Cabarrus Black Boys.


Rocky River Presbyterian Church was organized in 1751 by Scots and Scots-Irish families. The Reverend Alexander Craighead, a dynamic voice for freedom from England, was the first minister of both Rocky River Presbyterian Church and Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church.


In May 1771, nine young men, born in the Rocky River community and weaned on Rev. Craighead’s speeches about independence, reacted to the royal government sending a shipment of gunpowder from Charleston through Cabarrus County and Salisbury on its way to Hillsboro to be used to “put down” the Regulator Movement. The young men made plans to intercept the three wagons hauling the gunpowder. They blackened their faces with soot with the intent to disguise themselves. The disguise was so effective that the father of two of the young men did not recognize them as they made their way to Phifer’s old muster grounds on Poplar Tent Road. After nightfall, they attacked the royal government’s encampment. They moved the teamsters and horses to safety then laid a trail of gunpowder to the wagons. A shot was fired into the gun powder trail and the ensuing explosion was reportedly heard nine miles away.


As wanted men, they were forced into hiding after the incident. The Scots and Scots-Irish women of Rocky River Presbyterian Church fed and clothed these young patriots who hid along the banks of Reedy Creek. When in need of something, one of the young men would pop up in a ravine and whistle. A nearby resident would acknowledge the fugitive by removing his hat. He would then leave, so if asked, he could honestly say he had not seen the men. His wife would then take the young men food and supplies. These young patriots remained in hiding until independence was declared. 

The young patriots were later branded the Cabarrus Black Boys due to their disguises and the soot. 

Today’s DAR video

This video, hosted on YouTube, highlights the vibrant, active organization the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is today.



  • North Carolina in the American Revolution, by Eric G. Grundset for the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, pp. 69, 74, 83, 409, 2016.

  • Doers of a Daring Deed, by Billy Arthur. The State, Down Home in North Carolina, Vol. 63, Issue 12, May 1996, pp. 16-17.

  • Cabarrus Black Boys, A Short Historical Sketch of a Daring Deed, Concord: Times Presses, 1909.

  • Historical Sketch of Poplar Tent Church, by William Harris, 1873. Reprinted under the auspices of the Cabarrus Black Boys Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, Concord: p. 37, The Times Book and Job Presses, 1924.

  • The State, A Weekly Survey of North Carolina, by Carl Goerch, Vol. VIII, No. 29, pp. 1-5, December 14, 1940.

  • The Presbyterian Congregation on Rocky River, by Thomas Hugh Spence, Jr., pp. 22-25, Kingsport Press, Inc. 1954.

  • We Have Identified Thousands, Enough, by Adelaide M. and Eugenia White Lore, pp. 133-136, 1967.

  • Historical Sketches of North Carolina, by Col. John Hill Wheeler, Vol. 2, pp. 65-67, Lippincott, Grambo and Co., Philadelphia, PA, 1851.

  • Sketches of North Carolina, Historical and Biographical, Illustrative of the Principles of a Portion of Her Early Settlers, Rev. William Henry Foote, p. 481, published by Robert Carter, 1846.

  • Colonial Records of North Carolina, collected and edited by William L. Saunders, Vol. 8, p. 623, published by Josephus Daniels, 1890, contains the deposition of James Ashmore, one of the Cabarrus Black Boys.

  • Olde Mecklenburg Genealogical Society Quarterly, by Alden B. Johnson, Vol. 9, Number 2, pp. 84-90, 1991.

  • Breaking Loose Together, The Regulator Rebellion in Pre-Revolutionary North Carolina by Marjoleine Kars, pp. 126-127, 198-199, The University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

  • The Black Boys, May 2, 1771, by R. L. Trout, 1968.

  • The Cabarrus Black Boys, by Janet Morrison, 2011.

  • The Regulators in North Carolina: A Documentary History, 1759-1776, by William S. Powell, James K. Huhta, and Thomas J. Farnham, eds., 1971.

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