The Walden and Goins families have long fascinated researchers of local history.
According to Rassie Wicker, author of “Miscellaneous Ancient Records of Moore County,” the racial origin of the Goins and Walden families is as mysterious and debatable as that of the Lumbee Indians. In fact, documented records indicate that both families were free persons of color who originated in Surry County, Virginia during the colonization of Jamestown; who served in the Revolutionary War beside the colonists for freedom from English’s rule; who purchased vast acres of land; who owned plantations; and, who fought in the Civil War.
The Moore County Walden and Goins families lived in the Pocket Creek community among the Scottish Highlanders from whom some bore children. One famous family member was William Goins who moved to Texas and was instrumental in assisting Sam Houston in Texas’ quest for statehood. From upper Moore County, the Walden and Goins families moved to Cumberland County around 1860.
In the 1870s, the families purchased more than 4,000 acres of land on what is today the Fort Bragg military reservation immediately adjacent to Southern Pines horse country. There, the Goins family, in association with the Walden family, owned and operated extensive turpentine and naval stores collection businesses. Around 1890, due to the turpentine business no longer being productive, some families moved to Rosewood, Florida, where they purchased or leased around 2,000 acres for another turpentine distillery. Those family members, who did not move to Rosewood, remained in the Silver Run community until around 1919, when the federal government purchased the land for the development of Fort Bragg.
A family cemetery is located in the area that was once known as the Silver Run community. This cemetery, with tombstones containing mysterious Indian symbols, is now a protected historic site just a few miles from Southern Pines. Many historians, genealogists and descendants from various Indian tribes have visited the cemetery both to seek their roots and to view and attempt to interpret the mysterious carvings on several standing tombrocks.
The Goins family, which was spelled “Goings” in the 1790 Moore county census, has also mysteriously appeared in other areas of the country. They have, for example, been associated with the Melungeon people of central Tennessee and the Lumbee Indians of Robeson County. The Melungeons, historically associated with the Cumberland Gap area of central Appalachia, are considered tri-racial: a mix of European, Native American, and African ancestry.
Save Our Sandhills will feature a program on the history of the two families at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 26, 2018 at the Southern Pines Civic Club, corner of Ashe Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Making the presentation will be family historian Helena Hendrix-Frye, great-granddaughter of Eli Walden, who was the founder of the Harrington Chapel Original Free Will Baptist Church in Southern Pines. The public is invited. Refreshments will be served.