Back Road Trips: Randolph County, NC

Cox’s Mill from the bridge.

Recently, before the latest freeze, I went off exploring the back roads of Randolph County. A warm spring-like day is always perfect for a drive in the country. Randolph County reminds me of home: rolling hills, farms, barns, cows, and friendly folks.

Daffodils in bloom near the mill.

The mild winter confused the poor plant life here in the south and the early spring blooms were already giving a show. Little did they (or we) know that only days later the temperatures would drop below freezing, placing crops and other plants in danger of perishing from the cold.

The underworkings of the mill.

Cox’s Mill, slowly being repaired by a neighbor, is a mix of old and new. Originally constructed in the early 1900s, Cox’s Mill is, for the most part, intact. Powered by water until the1950s when it was converted to a different power source, the grist mill stands empty today. The mill is a beautiful and rare example of a former working grist mill in North Carolina.

Closed Mondays.

An old fuel pump surrounded by daffodils.

Farms are found along the roads in Randolph County, NC.

Farms dot the landscape in Randolph County. These curious young-ins came to visit me at the fence. I think they thought I was there with some grub. Sadly, no grub – just a camera. Aren’t they darling?

Got grub?

The farm was across the street, although I’m not sure if it was a working farm or vacant. If you didn’t know it, this could be any farm in Bucks County, PA.

Ummm, we’re hungry. Where’s the food, lady?

The Amos Hinshaw barn sits quietly along the roadside in Randolph County. The property is private, but that day I met a couple of nice folks – Danny, and his wife Vicki – who offered to give me a tour of this old barn.

The Amos Hinshaw barn. A northern style barn built with an earthen ramp for access to the second story.

The earthen ramp is a common feature in barns across Bucks County, PA (and up north in general) but not in the south. The Hinshaw family were Quakers, and Amos was the son of Thomas and Mary Hinshaw. The family has an interesting history, some of which is found here.

The Reader’s Digest version of this story goes like this: the brothers tried to remain under the radar during the Civil War, however they were eventually conscripted into service. As pacifists, the Hinshaws did not receive a warm welcome in the 52nd North Carolina Infantry. Soldiering was not in their blood. Eventually arrested for desertion, the brothers spent time in prison at Fort Delaware. Eventually other Quakers petitioned Abraham Lincoln for their release. Upon release, the Hinshaw brothers made their way to Indiana to spend time with family. Their wives and children joined them once they heard the news of their release.

This barn was constructed after Thomas took note of barn styles found in the north. Although in disrepair, you can still see the solidness of the barn’s construction.

The earthen ramp to the second floor of the Hinshaw Barn.

I didn’t want to occupy their time, but I did take a few moments to take a few shots of the exterior and interior of the barn. Danny is a fellow Air Force veteran. It’s strange how the world connects people: not only did we serve in the Air Force, it turns out that we’re both Yankee transplants that love this part of the south.

The second floor interior of the barn.

The Evergreen Academy is located at the crossroads of the Amos Hinshaw farm and across from the barn above. This one-room schoolhouse is a time capsule from when it was used last. I was not able to go in, but peered through the windows to see items left behind when the school closed. The dust is layered over the furniture and other items left untouched for years.

The abandoned Evergreen Academy, a Quaker schoolhouse across the street from the Hinshaw barn.

So much history is found on the backroads, not only in North Carolina, but across the country. It saddens me to think of how many historical resources are lost each year to time, never to be seen again. What is ever sadder is that many people don’t even know what is lost because they don’t take the time to take a ride around and open their eyes to what they’re seeing.

Personally, riding around the backroads gives me a better appreciate of what people had to go through to build this great nation today. It’s humbling. So the next time you’re looking for something to do get in the car and take a trip on the backroads. You’ll be glad you did!

Curious cows…