Christopher Vandegrift -
By Erskine Vandegrift
My great-great grandfather Christopher Vandegrift was born August 8, 1773.
He died January 11, 1844, and was buried with his wife at the Liberty Cemetery
near Odenville, Alabama. He was a methodist minister and farmer. His wife was
Rebecca Amberson. Their Children were: William, John, Jim, Leonard, Ellen,
Margaret, and Betsey.
Christopher with his family left Chester County, South Carolina about
September 1821 for Alabama. Their mode of travel was the schooner type drawn by
horses, using stretchers to add two to four horses to the wagons when the
pulling requirement became greater. All the children were grown and afforded
good man power when ever it was needed. (four boys and three girls)
They came by way of Jasper County, Georgia and while lingering there a short
while they met a young Presbyterian minister by the name of Peter Harden who on
first sight fell desperately in love with the daughter Ellen and she in turn
"fell for him," but time was short for the Vandegrift's must be on their way. So
the old folks finally gave in for their hasty marriage and so they did on
November 21, 1821 and on to Alabama they came, the Vandegrift's and Hardens.
Everyone must have been very happy because of the happy couple, good traveling
weather, and rapid progress.
About the middle of December they had approached the Coosa River at
Greensport, what is now Lock No. 1 near Ashville, Alabama and had afforded a
crossing at the shoals. They reached their point of destination a few days later
and set stakes at what was called Walnut-Grove, later called Jones-Cut, which is
about one mile east of Odenville and at the entrance of the first cut along the
Seaboard Airline Railroad.
Peter, with his bride Ellen, did not tarry long until they settled at what
is now Odenville. The home still stands (which has been added to from time to
time) known as the Harden home. His son, Crow Harden (by a second marriage)
lived there most of his life. After his death, Willard Hodges and wife (Nell,
daughter of Crow) have lived there.
Christopher with his boys lost no time in clearing the forest for planting.
The first house was a one room affair made of logs and boarded roof with plain
dirt floor until a better house could be built. The first summer was the hardest
as there was a shortage of corn in the community, and they had to ride as far as
Guntersville to get corn for planting. Trading centers were no closer that
Guntersville, Huntsville, Talladega, Selma, and Montevallo. Christopher preached
very often in the few distant Methodist churches riding ten to twenty miles by
horseback to meet his preaching engagements. One of his Bibles is in fairly good
state of preservation and is held in custody by his great-great-grandniece, Mrs.
Ruth Phillips Batson. It is a New Testament, translated out of the original
Greek and with former translations. It was printed in Philadelphia in 1813. In
this bible, there are fly leaves containing scriptural references of various
From all I can gather, he held true to the fine tradition of his forebearers
in living a strict Christian life and holding his family in subjection of moral
living and church life. His business dealings were fair and honorable, keeping
records of all transaction whether great or small. He, with his family, worked
hard and managed well to acquire a well equipped home and plenty of products
from his farm and homespun goods to keep them without want. I do not think
Christopher ever served in any wars except maybe skirmishes with the Indians
although his father was a soldier of the revolutionary war. Two of his grandsons
were named for him and a number of granddaughters and great-granddaughters were
named after his wife Rebecca. As before stated, she was Rebecca Amberson, born
in Chester County, S.C., March 10, 1777. She died March 3, 1852.