March 15, 2014

New Light

My family has a rich and long history in the New Light area of northern Wake County, NC.  New Light is Wake County's northern most township and is just a hop, skip, and jump to Granville County. 

Many of my Allen and Ray family members are from New Light. It is an area that was long known for it's moonshiners and is now just a few miles from Raleigh city limits. My great grand parents Eugene Allen and Elizabeth Ray lived and are buried at New Light, as are a multitude of other related family members.

The area grew to have a mysterious nature and natives nurtured the "stay out" attitude. They did not like outsiders and they especially didn't like "revenuers" as moonshining was a powerful economic force.  

Elizabeth Murray's book on Wake County says "...the New Light (now Baptist) church in northern Wake County, was organized in 1775 and is repeatedly referred to in court records as "New Light Meeting House". It's name derives from a mid-eighteenth-century movement, away from established churches, by people who were called "New Lights". Subsequently in New Light Township(earlier, "District") in which the church is located took its name from the religious group, as had a creek in the same area."

From research and conversation, I've gleaned that New Light was named for the rebellious Baptist/Moravian "common man" Christians who migrated to the area in the mid-1700s. Check out what Charles Woodmason had to say about the "New Light Infestations".  Woodmason rebuked locals for "spitting tobacco, leaving the service during Prayer, whispering during the sermon, and not controlling unruly children."

Wake County Townships
Today, New Light is rural yet new subdivisions are popping up at an alarming rate. It has a population of about 7600 souls and covers about 50 square miles. It sits right on the Wake/Granville county lines on Falls Lake. It's a beautiful area and I frequently enjoy Sunday afternoon drives in the area checking out cemeteries and thinking about my family's connection with the land. 

No comments:

Post a Comment