Cameras clicked as traffic whizzed past a landmark on Langtree Road near Herring Way, but no one took photos of passing cars and trucks. Instead, members of the Mary Slocumb Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and interested observers focused on a granite marker.
It was placed at the site in 1914 by the founding members of the Mary Slocumb Chapter, the fourth oldest DAR chapter in North Carolina. The memorial commemorates the location of Torrence’s Tavern and a skirmish that occurred there during the Revolutionary War.
Originally, the marker was installed on the side of a hill. At some point, the Department of Transportation moved it to the hilltop. Over the decades, the commemorative tribute sank into the ground.
The marker was showing its age. It was time for a facelift, so members went to work. Under the leadership of Nancy Jamgochian, former Mary Slocumb regent, the group embarked on a two-year rejuvenation project.
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“We decided to honor the DAR heritage in our community and, more importantly, preserve the marker for the future and educate the community about the skirmish,” said Anne Hobbs, current regent.
Hobbs said the growing chapter is not rich; however, members raised about $1,300 for the restoration. They bought a base stone to increase the marker’s prominence and added a plaque that reads, “Rededicated 2014.”
CBC Concrete Crushing and Recycling of Mooresville donated labor and equipment to remove, clean and reinstall the marker.
The chapter hired Concord Monument Co. to complete the restoration, which included painting the original, hand-chiseled lettering for better visibility against the granite and designing an additional plaque.
As CBC employee Chad Safrit maneuvered a front-end loader into place on Aug. 20, DAR members anticipated the outcome of their planning and work.
Several trial runs took place as workmen dug a hole for the base, positioned the stone, removed it and dug deeper. When the 5,300-pound rock was in place, the tricky part began – lifting the almost 500-pound marker from a truck onto the slab.
As workmen guided the refurbished marker, held by canvas straps, Safrit set it on the granite base.
Workers slid granite shims underneath the memorial, removed the straps and leveled it. Flecks and variations in the base and marker are similar, so there’s a possibility the two came from the same quarry.
“The marker was covered in moss. Now we can see sparkles in the granite,” said Ann Brown, publicity chair.
“It looks like a real monument,” Hobbs said. “It’s a wonderful way to honor the people who lost their lives that day.”
The actual date of the skirmish remains a question. Some sources attribute it as Feb. 1, 1781, others Feb. 2. A North Carolina Highway Historical sign on N.C. 115 at Mt. Mourne lists the date as Feb. 2. According to the memorial, local and Internet sources, British cavalry units under the command of Colonel Banastre Tarleton overcame a group of American militia at Torrence’s Tavern.
Many of the patriots were local members of the Centre Church Militia and are buried at the church.
“Some people have said the skirmish might have been forgotten if the DAR had not erected the marker,” Hobbs said.
Soon, the Mary Slocumb chapter will know more about the attack, which took place when this area was part of Rowan County. Historian Chris Stonestreet is researching the battle and will publish a book in the fall. He’ll reveal the results of his investigation at the next DAR chapter meeting.
“When history becomes a personal story, it’s more important to you. It’s a personal story for many people in Iredell County,” Hobbs said.