Independent TribuneColumns Kirkland, Welch’s Mill and Wharey post offices

Kirkland, Welch’s Mill and Wharey post offices

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By Janet Morrison
Did You Know?
Did you know there were post offices named Kirkland, Welch’s Mill, and Wharey in Township One in the 1800s? Less is known about them than about the Harrisburg Post Office. 

Robert Kirkpatrick opened the Kirkland Post Office on Pharr Mill Road on Aug. 6, 1838. I have been unable to determine where on Pharr Mill Road the Kirkland Post Office was housed. 

Born in 1789, Mr. Kirkpatrick served as Kirkland postmaster for 21 years. He is thought to have lived across the road from Rocky River Presbyterian Church until moving into the village of Harrisburg in later life.

Samuel Elijah Wellington Pharr, the son of Walter Franklin and Sarah Morrison Pharr, was the Kirkland postmaster from 1859 until 1866. While serving as a 1st Lieutenant in Company H, 7th Regiment, North Carolina Troops in Virginia during the War Between the States, Pharr ate too many green apples and reportedly suffered related health problems for the remainder of his life.

It is not known whether or not the post office remained open while Pharr was away during the war. Mrs. Elmira Kirkpatrick was appointed postmistress on Dec. 6, 1866. She served only 18 months before the Kirkland Post Office was closed on June 26, 1868. 

Contrary to the information in the Stephen Cabarrus Junior Historians Club’s book, The Mail Comes Through, Welch’s Mill Post Office was located on Reedy Creek, west of present-day Robinson Church Road.  Joseph Milton Welch was appointed postmaster on July 2, 1837, and served until the office closed on Sept. 27, 1853. 

Mr. Welch’s father, Joseph, settled here by 1782 and is thought to have built the grist mill or had it built. There is a reference to Welch’s Mill in the Oct. 16, 1798, Cabarrus Pleas and Quarter Sessions minutes. The post office was possibly located in the mill house.

It is thought that the Wharey Post Office was located in the Kirkpatrick house which stood until recent years across the road from Rocky River Presbyterian Church. Sadly, it is now a pile of rubble. The post office took its name from the Rev. James Morton Wharey, pastor of Rocky River Presbyterian Church from 1876 until 1886. 

Mrs. Anna Ada Parks Blair, wife of Dr. J.S. Blair, was the first Wharey postmistress. She was succeeded as postmaster by Henry C. Dunn, Jr.  Dunn was a professor at the Rocky River Academy.

Dunn served only 10 months before Daniel L. Alexander became the Wharey postmaster. Alexander served in the Confederate Army for the duration of the War Between the States. Letters that he wrote during the war are in the possession of a relative today.

After the war, Alexander married Margaret Elizabeth McClellan and they raised a family in the Rocky River Community. When he became the Wharey postmaster, the family moved from the McDonald Hill Road to the Kirkpatrick house where the post office was located. Alexander served as postmaster there from April 29, 1887, until April 18, 1888. At that time, the post office was closed and its patrons began to receive their mail through the post office in Harrisburg.

Bibliography
• By the Old Mill Stream, by the Stephen Cabarrus History Club of Harrisburg School, 1968.

• The Mail Comes Through:  How the News Was Carried to and from Cabarrus County Citizens from 1792 – 1967, by the Stephen Cabarrus Historian Club of Harrisburg School, 1967.

• The Presbyterian Congregation on Rocky River, by Thomas Hugh Spence, Jr., 1954.

• Descendants of James & Jennet Morrison of Rocky River, by Alice Marie and Janet Sue Morrison, 1996.

• McClellan Records including Records of Isaac McClellan and His Descendants (unpublished), collected by The Rev. J. Mark Harris and Mary Harris Stratton, 1910-1975.


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