Name: Sterling Gunn 1
Reference Number: 4054
Birth: 09 MAY 1764 in Brunswick County, Virginia
Burial: Yanceyville United Methodist Church (Yanceyville, Caswell County, North Carolina)
Death: 13 AUG 1852 in Caswell County, North Carolina
Sterling Gunn (1764-1852)
(for larger image, click on photograph)
There is some disagreement whether he is named Starling or Sterling (with Steirling also being seen).
The inscription on the Yanceyville gravestone of Starling Gunn (1764-1852) reads: ?Sacred to the memory of Starling Gunn a soldier in the war of Independence who fired the first cannon at York and was an eye witness to the surrender of Cornwallis. He was for more than 40 yrs a prominent member of the M. E. Church. Who Died Aug. 13, 1852. AE. 88y's 3 m's 4d's.?
Go to Starling Gunn for a biographical sketch and a photograph of his grave marker. He initially was buried in the Gunn Family Cemetery adjacent to his house off the County Home Road in Caswell County, North Carolina, but moved by Gunn descendants to the Yanceyville United Methodist Church.
For detailed Gunn family information see Gunn and Burruss Family Tree.
Soil From Grave of Starling Gunn At Mt. Vernon
The tree from Yorktown which was recently planted near the tomb of George Washington at Mount Vernon by the Daughters of the American Revolution is taking root in soil, part of which was removed from the grave of Starling Gunn in Caswell county, it was learned today. A box full of earth taken from the grave of the old patriot was North Carolina's contribution to the tree-planting ceremony but this apparently is not generally known.
The grave of Starling Gunn was brought into public view a few years ago. It is near Yanceyville and for years it had been neglected. Then the significance of the words on the time-worn slab was realized. This gives the name of the old soldier, recites the fact that he was a member of the Methodist church for 40 years, that he fired the first gun at the Battle of Yorktown, and that he personally witnessed the surrender of Lord Cornwallis. Gunn was a Caswell county pioneer and is the forbear of many Gunns now to be found in these parts.
When this article was published Starling Gunn's grave was in the Gunn family cemetery north of Yanceyville. Later, his great great grandson, Johnnie Oliver Gunn, had the remains and gravestone moved to the Yanceyville United Methodist Church cemetery in Yanceyville.
Starling Gunn (1764-1852) is buried in the Yanceyville United Methodist Church cemetery (Yanceyville, Caswell County, North Carolina), with the following inscription on his grave marker:
Sacred to the memory of Starling Gunn a soldier in the war of Independence who fired the first cannon at York and was an eye witness to the surrender of Cornwallis. He was for more than 40 yrs a prominent member of the M. E. Church. Who Died Aug. 13, 1852. AE. 88y's 3 m's 4d's.
(click on thumbnail for larger image)
The following is from the diary of Reverend William M. Jordan (14 August 1852):
Sat 14th About daybreak or a little before I was called up to go and preach the funeral of Father Gunn. I had sixteen miles to go. Was not in a good plight for preaching from my ride and previous labor. I took for my text 1 Thess 4.13,14. Of Father Gunn I will here record the following notice: - Starling Gunn was born in Nottoway (?) Co. Va., on the 9th of May 1764, and died at his residence in Caswell Co. N.C. on the 13th of August 1852. At the age fourteen he volunteered his services in behalf of country. Having become a soldier in the Revolutionary War, he served several campaigns, and was present at Yorktown when the British army under Lord Cornwallis was captured. Soon after the war had ended he engaged in a Christian warfare, and became a soldier of the cross of Christ; and having taken unto himself the armour of God he never laid it aside. He fought till his master called for him; and in his last illness gave satisfactory assurance to his friends that all was well. We believe his spirit has entered into rest. When I met him at Church a little more than two week before his death little did I think that he would so soon be taken from us. But he is gone. May my last end by like his!
John Peter Powell apparently had a great granddaughter named Mary Kathleen Powell, who married a Greenfield. She provided the following:
These copies of newspaper clippings, and the letter, and the personal note came from Mary Kathleen (Powell) Greenfield. She was the great granddaughter of John Peter Powell, the third son of Peter Powell, Sr.)
Copies of news clippings of 1956 and 1960
Madison Edmond Dies at Home in Thomas Hill.
Madison (Mat) Edmond, 73, died at 12:30 o'clock yesterday morning at his home in Thomas Hill. He had resided in Thomas Hill the past 50 years. Surviving are his wife, one son Henry Allen Edmond, a sister, Mrs. Lon Nowling of Los Angeles and a brother, Joe Edmond of Des Moines. Funeral services will be conducted at 2 o'clock Wednesday afternoon at the Thomas Hill Baptist Church by the pastor, the Rev. LeRoy Toliver. Burial will be in the adjoining cemetery. (1956)
The body of Henry A. Edmond arrived in Huntsville from Chicago, Ill. Saturday night and funeral services will be held at 2 o'clock Monday afternoon by Rev. J. V. Roberts. Burial in the adjoining cemetery. He was the son of Kay Edmond and Mat Edmond who passed away four years ago, the 14th of this month (Oct. 17, 1960).
[Mat Edmond told me some twenty five or thirty years ago that he was the descendant of a slave brought to Missouri by one of the Powells. I feel that it would be the one spoken of in the letter written by Sterling Gunn, Sen. -- Mary Greenfield]
Caswell County, N. C.
Jan. 7, 1844
Dear Children James and Martha Matlock;
Mr. Brazillai Powell is just now about to leave this part of the country for Missouri with Edmond's wife among his other property. As Edmond wishes to follow his wife I have consented to send him to you as a gift as he will be able, I understand, to be near enough to his wife. Mr. Powell is to charge you twenty dollars for carrying Edmond to you provided that Edmond is of no service to him along the way. If he can do Mr. Powell any service on the road then he is to redeem his charge accordingly. This you and him can settle. This you must reasonably .... This might be reckoned as my last gift to you. As .... according to nature I cannot be in the land of the living a great deal longer.
I shall continue to hope to hear a good account from you all.
Sterling Gunn, Sen.
The following is from Marriage and Death Notices in Raleigh Register and North Carolina State Gazette 1846-1855, Carrie L. Broughton, Compiler (1948):
"Gunn, August Sterling, Aug. 13, Caswell county. R.R. Sept. 1, 1852 (Raleigh Register)."
Note that most Gunn family researchers have never seen the name as August Sterling Gunn. It is believed that this compiler confused the death month with the given name of Sterling Gunn. Accordingly, researchers should not use the "August" name without convincing documentation.
A side note for all interested in the Gunn Clan from whence Sterling/Starling's ancestors came--A few years ago I drove up to Latheron, Scotland on the east coast and stopped in at the Gunn Cemetary. It sits on a gorgeous bluff overlooking the sea with hundreds of sheep grazing on the pastures surrounding it. The Gunn Clan Museum is there as well; not a huge one but with a lot of interesting history about the Clan's heritage and migration to America. It's a bit of a drive, but the sense that some of the people buried under those weathered gravestones were my forebears was impossible to describe. The happy surprise I found afterward was at Dunrobin Castle, south of Latheron. It was to Dunrobin, owned by the Earl of Sutherland, that most of the Gunn Clan worked after they lost their lands in the north.
Source: Susan Page Percy Posting to the CCHA Message Board 1 May 2010.
While no image of Sterling Gunn is known to exist, the following suggests that a portrait by William Anderson Roberts was painted:
Roberts, William Anderson (22 May 1837-1899), artist, farmer, and Confederate soldier of English descent, was born in new Prospect Church [community] three miles west of Yanceyville, the son of Elijah, a farmer, and Rebecca B. Davis Roberts. Reared in Caswell County, he knew the deprivations of rural farm life and was educated in the local schools. Early in life he manifested an interest in art, but how and from whom he received raining is unknown.
At age twenty he was painting portraits on a commercial basis, the first of which was of Starling Gunn, a veteran of the American Revolution, for which he received $20. His commissions grew and the cost of individual portraits soon advanced to $35. His standard charge for groups of three was $60. During 1857 he painted 106 portraits of well-known people in his native county. In 1858 and 1859 he painted in adjoining Rockingham County, primarily in the families of Scales, Timberlake, Montgomery, Leissure, Spencer, Willard, Watkins, and Dillard.
Source: Plumblee, M. Q. "Roberts, William Anderson." Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Volume 5 P-S. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1994: 228-229. Print.
Starling Gunn, Virginian
A week or ten days ago the Raleigh News and Observer published a story about how Mr. Kerr had gone on a visit to LaFayette Murray, who lives like a lord on a fine plantation three miles from the thriving hamlet of Yanceyville, in Caswell County, North Carolina: how he found a little graveyard on this plantation and in this graveyard an old monument or headstone which marked the last resting place of Starling Gunn, a soldier of the Revolution, who fired the first cannon at Yorktown when Lord Cornwallis surrendered to General Washington. In view of the well known historical gifts of the News and Observer, we assumed that there was really no foundation for the story, and immediately discredited it, suggesting that if the alleged grave should be opened the original copy of the Mecklenburg Declaration would be found in the left-hand pocket of the jim swinger which he (the said Starling Gunn) is almost certain to have worn on his farewell appearance.
That was a trifling way in which to speak of so serious a mater if, in the circumstances, it could have been regarded seriously, and we wish now to make the most ample apology for this apparently irreverent observation, since we are assured that there was really a Revolutionary soldier by the name engraved on the monument in Caswell County, that his memory is cherished by is descendants to this day because of his high character and his loyal service to his country in the great struggle for American independence.
The Rev. E. Steirling Gunn writes as follows from Trinity Rectory, Natchez, Mississippi:
I have just read a clipping from your issue of September 10 with the caption "Another Find in North Carolina," which was sent me by my mother. There is the grave of my grandfather, Starling Gunn, in Caswell county, North Carolina, some three miles from Yanceyville, with a tombstone bearing this inscription: 'Sacred to the memory of Starling Gunn, a soldier in the War of Independence who fired the first cannon at York and was an eyewitness to the surrender of Cornwallis. He was for more than forty years a prominent member of the M. E. Church, who died August 13th, 1852, age 88 years, 3 months and 4 days.'
The monument or tombstone was erected by my grandfather's family, I think by my father, and the inscription was placed there because my grandfather told my father that these were the facts in regard to his war experience. I never saw my grandfather, for whom I am named, but I have heard my father recite these facts many times.
This statement from the Rev. Mr. Gunn establishes beyond any further question that there is a monument in the old graveyard on Mr. Murray's plantation three miles from Yanceyville, in Caswell County, North Carolina, and that it marks the spot where Starling Gunn, Patriot and Soldier, rests. "But," says the Rev. Mr. Gunn, and this is the most interesting feature of the new North Carolina find:
"But my grandfather was not a soldier from North Carolina. He settled in the virgin forests of the Old North State after the war. From the Department of the Interior, Washington, D. C., I have received the following record: 'Starling Gunn, a soldier in the Revolutionary War, born in Brunswick County, Virginia, May 9th, 1764. Residence at enlistment Amelia County, Virginia. Dates of enlistment September, 1776, February 1781, March 1781, June 1781. Length of service, 3 months, 15 days, 3 months, 3 1/2 months. Rank, private. Captains under whom service was rendered, Edward Mumford, John Knight, Anderson and Cobb, Price. Colonels, Elliott, Meriwether, Richardson, Lamb. State, Virginia Continental Artillery, Battles engaged in, siege of Yorktown. He served as a substitute for his father, Thomas Gunn.'"
"But my grandfather was not a soldier from North Carolina." All honor to Starling Gunn, the Virginian who fought with Washington at Yorktown!
Source: The Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia), 18 September 1911.
Caswell County, North Carolina
Deed Book R, Page 168
Susannah Hooper of Caswell County to son-in-law Starling Gunn, for love and affection, negro boy Jere and girl _____ now in his possession, woman Tabb and her two sons Nathan and Charley; these to be in possession of Susannah Hooper for her life. 25 July 1814. Witnesses: Griffin Gunn, Thomas Turner.
Kendall, Katharine Kerr. Caswell County North Carolina Deed Books 1777-1817. Easley (South Carolina): Southern Historical Press, Inc. 1989. Page 342.
1840 United States Federal Census
Name: Sterling Grenn [Sterling Gunn]
Birth Year: abt 1764
State: North Carolina
Free White Persons - Males - 70 thru 79: 1
Free White Persons - Females - 30 thru 39: 1
Free White Persons - Females - 70 thru 79: 1
Slaves - Males - Under 10: 1
Slaves - Males - 10 thru 23: 5
Slaves - Males - 24 thru 35: 2
Slaves - Males - 36 thru 54: 1
Slaves - Females - Under 10: 2
Slaves - Females - 10 thru 23: 5
Slaves - Females - 24 thru 35: 1
Slaves - Females - 36 thru 54: 2
Total - All Persons (Free White, Free Colored, Slaves): 22
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 18
Free White Persons - 20 thru 49: 1
Total Free White Persons: 3
Total Slaves: 19
Total All Persons - Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 22
U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970
Name: Starling Gunn
SAR Membership: 85913
Birth Date: 9 May 1764
Birth Place: Brunswick, Virginia
Death Date: 13 Aug 1852
Death Place: Caswell, North Carolina
Spouse: Mary Hooper Gunn
Children: Thomas Gunn
Father: Thomas Gunn III b: 1738 in Amelia County, Virginia
Mother: Susannah Burnett b: ABT 1738 in Virginia
Mary Elizabeth Hooper b: 17 APR 1768 in Nottoway County, Virginia
05 OCT 1785
in Brunswick County, Virginia
- Barbara Gunn b: 24 FEB 1804
- Starling Hooper Gunn b: 04 FEB 1802 in Caswell County, North Carolina
- Mary Gunn b: 26 JUN 1799
- James D. Gunn b: 16 DEC 1811 in Caswell County, North Carolina
- Allen M. Gunn M.D. b: 13 MAY 1807 in Caswell County, North Carolina
- John G. Gunn Jr. b: 04 JUL 1804
- Jesse Asa Gunn b: 18 APR 1797
- Thomas Gunn Sr. b: 20 AUG 1789 in Brunswick County, Virginia
- Richard Burnett Gunn b: 17 APR 1788 in Virginia
- Elizabeth Burnett Gunn b: 24 AUG 1786 in Brunswick County, Virginia
- Susannah Gunn b: 05 DEC 1794
- Daniel Gunn b: 19 FEB 1793 in Caswell County, North Carolina
- Martha Hooper Gunn b: 06 MAY 1791
- Details: Some Descendants of Thomas Gunn III (1738-1800), Gwen Gunn Shoemaker, Compiler (Privately Published, Eldon, Missouri, 1976)