Alexander’s Ford certification ceremony set for Oct. 5

Published 8:44 pm Monday, October 3, 2011

On the 231st anniversary of the trek by the frontier militia chasing the British-led forces from Western North Carolina (WNC), Polk County and National Park Service officials will formally dedicate and certify Alexander’s Ford on the Green River and the path leading to it as part of the Overmountain National Victory Historic Trail.
The public ceremony will take place at the trail entrance adjacent to Gray’s Chapel Church near the Polk-Rutherford County line at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 5.
“This is one of the most significant portions of the trail,” said Paul Carson, superintendent of the Overmountain National Victory Historic Trail. “It is the last overnight camping place for the Overmountain men in their quest to drive the Loyalist forces from WNC. It was here that they learned where the British-led force was. It is here today that a portion of the old original colonial road is still visible.”
From Alexander’s Ford, the Liberty Men traveled 40 hours without sleep through a cold rain and soundly defeated the Loyalists at Kings Mountain in a battle that Thomas Jefferson called “the turn in the tide of success.” Sir Henry Clinton, the British commander in the colonies, lamented that the defeat at Kings Mountain was “the first link in a chain of evils, the loss of America.”
The Alexander’s Ford project was developed under the leadership of Ambrose Mills III, chair of the Polk County Economic Development Commission. Mills is a direct descendant of Colonel Ambrose Mills, who led the Tory militia from this area and had his home a few miles upstream of the ford.
“We are delighted that this important part of our history is preserved so that current and future generations know and appreciate the sacrifices that were made by our forefathers in making America a free nation,” Mills said, noting that some of his ancestors were also Whigs who championed independence.  “And for us in Polk County, it is important to know that richness of our local heritage in that struggle where brother fought brother and neighbor fought neighbor. Fortunately, we all came together afterwards to build a great country.”
He added, “We appreciate the board of directors of the Bradley Foundation and the board of county commissioners for making it possible for our citizens to enjoy such a pristine historical and natural preserve.”
The Overmountain National Victory Historic Trial stretches 220 miles from Abington, Va., to Kings Mountain, where Liberty Men from both sides of the mountains wiped out a thousand-man Loyalist force in a battle that significantly altered the course of the war.
With grants and contributions, Polk County acquired the 162-acre property from the Bradley Foundation earlier this year. The trail will traverse 1.5 miles of the Marjorie M. and Lawrence R. Bradley Nature Preserve. It will be managed by the county’s parks and recreation department under strict guidelines designed to protect the natural beauty and flora of the area.
In addition to Carson, Mills and local officials, participating in the certification ceremonies will be members of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association, who since 1985 have retraced the steps of the mountain freedom fighters.
Dressed in period costume, the reenactors tell thousands of school children about the frontier hardships, ingenuity, dedication and devotion needed for survival in 1780. They will conduct hands-on demonstrations for Polk County students for several hours prior to the 3 p.m. certification ceremonies.
To reach the Bradley Nature Preserve and Overmountain National Victory Historic Trail, turn south on  Palmer Road from N.C. 108 East near the Rutherford County line. Drive 1.5 miles to Gray’s Chapel where the road ends, just past Abrams-Moore Rd.
– article submitted
by Joe Epley

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