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296    WHITAKER, J (1828) [GRAVE OF]

      Location - In Western Cheeks Township next to Lebanon Road (SR #1306), near a large vertical rock outcropping on the north side of the road approximately 100 yards east of Stagecoach Road (SR #1378).

      Coordinates: 36d 06m 31.0s N; 79d 15m 11.9s W Click here for Google maps

      Survey - From newspaper articles in the Alamance-Orange Enterprize, one dated Feb 25 and another Apr 7, 1976; a third, undated but likely about Dec 1975, by staff writer Sondra J. Harris, is included in the name listing. Margaret Jones of the Orange County Environment and Resource Conservation Department and Milton Forsyth visited the site on 7 February 2007 and obtained the photos and precise location.

  1. Whitaker, J   (b. - d. 1828)
      • From A Newpaper Clipping [probably The Alamance-Orange Enterprise in Dec 1975]: "Mebane Historical Site" - "'Headless Horseman' is seen near rock uncovered recently revealing man's name who drove through 'Mebanesville'" by Sondra J. Harris, staff writer:

        It is a gravestone for a man who lost against the forces of nature, and a monument to the early 1800's, when stagecoach drivers were the principal communicators among the states. It sits about five feet from the side of Lebanon Rd. across from Lake Michael east of Mebane in Orange County, looming against a background of trees, and when the sun is right in the late afternoon, one can see the figures, "J Whitaker" chiseled into the side of the old stone, and below the name, a date, 1828. But the carved letters and numbers are on the side of the rock facing away from the road, so that passers-by don't see them at a glance.

        C. E. Patterson, 89, a resident of Mebane for many years, rode to the town 81 years ago by muleback. He came from Pikesville, Ky., and knows the story of the old rock, as passed down to him from generation to generation. Patterson'S nephew, Joe A. Rice, and a cousin, W. T. Patterson, cleared off the vines and shrubbery that had grown up over the old stone about three weeks ago, to see if the writing they had heard about so often was actually there. It was. According to Patterson and Rice, a road used to run a few feet north of the rock and of Lebanon Rd., which, if it still existed, would run parallel to Lebanon Rd. today. They called it "The King's Highway" many years ago, and referred to it as "Mason Hall Road" when Patterson came to Mebane.

        As the story goes, a stagecoach used to travel from Greensboro to Raleigh, passing through "Mebanesville" on its way. On the particular day of the tragedy, the stagecoach driver was going downhill toward Hillsborough, when he hit a rough place in the road, and "the horses kind of got away with the man" said Mr. Patterson. The driver was thrown against the rock and killed. He was buried there and his name and the date of the accident were carved into the stone. Legend has it that on stormy nights one can see the "headless horseman" standing by the rock.

Web page updated 13 May 2017

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