Leachburg: Cleveland's historical township name

Discussion in 'Discussion Group' started by certdude, Jun 9, 2018.

  1. certdude

    certdude Well-Known Member

    Anyone ever heard this? Came across it on the history/archaeology survey (totally another story) for I540 this week, and found it cross referenced on a few church histories in the area.
     
  2. cranky

    cranky Well-Known Member

    I've seen it mentioned in several history articles alongside polenta. My understanding is that it was a plantation belonging to James Leach covering a few thousand acres. Started after the revolution and divided starting after the civil war. There is a family cemetery over behind lowes food @ 42/50 that bears the name leach but I am unsure if the two are related or if this was near the old home place.
     
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  3. DWK

    DWK Well-Known Member

    Here’s some interesting historical stuff related to Leachburg and Cleveland. James Thomas Leach owned thousands of acres (plantation) in JoCo and lent out several acres to establish the Mount Zion Methodist Church. There seems to be some speculation that the original church was located on Cornwallis Trail (Road?) but can’t be confirmed. The current Mount Zion in Garner has a lot of historical information available online for anyone who is interested.
     

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    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
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  4. certdude

    certdude Well-Known Member

    Aye I found the bit about the church but didn't realize how big the property is as you are describing.
     
  5. What's the history behind the Polenta name? Always wondered.
     
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  6. DWK

    DWK Well-Known Member

    This comes straight from the Johnston County Heritage Center:

    33CAF20D-9223-42AB-95C3-F3D1BE96F7C5.jpeg

    One thing that isn’t mentioned in this short account by the Johnston County Heritage Center is the fact that before the war, the county seat, Smithfield, was described by one visitor as having a certain “aristocratic air”. This is an important fact, because during that time, Johnston County plantation owners (and most of the elite, moneyed class) fashionably mimicked European manners, vocabulary, dress, and architecture, as a way to differentiate themselves from the so-called “lower classes”. In doing so, the landowners of the time often borrowed more pleasing, European-sounding words or phrases to replace words that might be considered “vulgar”, or “commonplace”. This was also a way for someone to announce their “cultured”, social standing within the community. (We still do this kind of social striving stuff today by using buzzwords to either maintain or enter into an advantageous social group, so nothing new there.) While it can’t be proven, it’s my guess that Mr. Sanders, a plantation owner who primarily grew corn, (sold into various forms including cornmeal) probably preferred the more refined, European (in this case Italian) word “polenta” as was the fashion then, rather than calling it by the more coarse-sounding “cornmeal mush”, or “grits”. It was also common at the time for post offices to be located in general stores, so maybe Mr. Sanders had a store thereabouts that also sold his corn products, or polenta. Again, this is just my guess, but it seems to fit the European language fashions of the Southern aristocracy at that time, and why we have an odd Italian name for a road in the middle of farm land. If anybody has a better theory, or more complete information, I’d like to hear it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
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  7. poppin cork

    poppin cork Well-Known Member

    The road name came from the previous school name. There was a Polenta school(think shack) over at the end of now Polenta Rd and intersection of Raleigh Rd. That's why the road was named Polenta Rd, after Polenta school house.
     
  8. DWK

    DWK Well-Known Member

    Okay, your account would seem to conflict with the account provided to me by the Johnston County Heritage Center. The question is: Was the post office built first on Mr. Sander’s corn plantation in 1880, and then the school built later on Polenta Road and Raleigh Road? I’m sure that your account is probably valid as well, I’m just trying to pinpoint exactly when and where the uncommon, Italian name “Polenta” first appeared in these parts. I have read that there were several tiny farming communities, that were later incorporated into Cleveland, whose vestiges are still visible today in some of our street signs. In addition to the post office, Mr. Sanders could have also built the original Polenta school, which was common for some plantation owners to do on their properties, which may still connect him to the original Polenta school, as well as to the Polenta post office.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
  9. poppin cork

    poppin cork Well-Known Member

    Polenta was used by native Americans from what I was told. All I know was told to me growing up around here. May be fact or folk lore. I really have no proof either way. Just sharing what was handed down to me.
     
  10. DWK

    DWK Well-Known Member

    You’re right about that. The Tuscarora tribe that was native to this area grew Tuscarora corn and ground it into flour to make pancakes and bread. This is where “traditional” Southern foods like cornbread and Johnny cakes come from, until it was discovered that the recipe could be much improved by deep frying the corn mush in hot oil to make hush puppies. But I’m pretty sure the Tuscaroran tribe didn’t call their corn meal “polenta” which is definitely an Italian word. Thanks for your recollection. It’s helpful.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2018
  11. DWK

    DWK Well-Known Member

    Here’s an historical Johnston County map showing the Polenta community. Notice that Leachburg, another defunct community, is located above Polenta on this map. E55A46B8-8A90-447F-9763-F7F1BDDE65F5.png
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
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  12. DWK

    DWK Well-Known Member

    Here’s another historical record from the North Carolina Postal Service that shows the original 1882 owner/operator of the Polenta Community Post Office, William H. Sanders, and other operators through 1900 when it finally closed and mail was transferred to Smithfield. DCFF352F-6F4F-4998-A741-9DCC71DCF0C7.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
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  13. DWK

    DWK Well-Known Member

    And finally, here’s another historical list showing Post Offices in Johnston County servicing communities that have also long since disappeared, or changed names. Note that the original name for Clayton was Gulley’s Store where the first post office was located. 7CC8695B-E003-498B-9BAD-C0BBCD3A2EBC.jpeg
     
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