Pike Pioneers, A Vintage Vignette
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
March 26, 2009
Along Highway 72 in Madison from Nance Road westward to Hughes Road is property that was initially purchased from the government land office on February 3, 1818, by George W. Pike. His tract included today’s location of Home Depot and the Outback Steak House plus all of the Bradford Farms housing development. My own curiosity about the Pike pioneers of Madison County was augmented by the fact that my church, Wall Highway Baptist, sits on land obtained from Richard Pike. The Pike family further connects in that Vickie (Ortner) Pike and her daughters Shannon and April, all beautiful ladies, were long-time members of the church. Shannon was the subject of an article in the Madison Spirit of March 1, 2006, describing her career as an Atlanta Falcons cheerleader. She attended Sparkman High School, where she was a member of a national championship cheer squad. From there she went to the University of Alabama, where she was a member and senior-year coach of the Crimson Cabaret dance team, which placed third in national competition. After graduation Shannon became a physical education teacher and cheer coach plus choreographer for five years at Bob Jones High School, where she and the teams won many more awards.
The Pike name is found in old archives of England, where Richard “Pyke” is mentioned among the “Knights Companions of the Bath” in 1324 and John Pike is described in 1322 as a “chronicler, master of the schools of St. Martin-le-Grand” in London. The 1329 will of Alexander Pyke mentions his sons Nicholas and John. Nicholas Pyke was Sheriff of London in 1332 and mentioned as an ancestor of Thomas Pyke, Sheriff in 1410. Perhaps as a foreshadowing of later American connections, in 1676 Mary Pike wed Edward Trotman in England. In Madison County history, the Pikes of the 1800s intermarried with pioneer family surnames of Wall, Crutcher, Clutts, Parvin, East, Gooch, Clift, Hilliard, Sanderson, and Slaughter, among others. Several of the family members are buried in the St. John Cemetery, which is located on the south side of Nick Davis Road less than half a mile west of Jeff Road. Others are buried in the Pike-Sanderson Cemetery, located a bit north of Highway 72 and west of Balch Road. Still others are in the Mt. Zion Baptist Church Cemetery just west of Jeff Road. Madison County pioneer George W. Pike was born in 1810 Virginia, per 1870 census data. His wife was Julia P. Landtroop (married in 1833), and they had a son named Logan in their 1870 household. The 1840 census showed the household of George Pike with five children plus his wife and two older residents. George and his wife were given as age 20-30, but there was another male aged 50-60 and another female of that age in the house, with no names given in that census other than the head of the household. Judging from their ages, it is likely that George was a brother of other Pikes of Madison County of his time. These were John, born about 1805, James (1809), Martha (1813) and William A. Pike (1821). Ancestry.com postings indicate that these were children of another George W. Pike (1778-1856) and his wife Sarah from Virginia. John Pike married Elizabeth East, and James married Pacilla East, both being daughters of William East. John Pike owned land west of Nance Road and south of McCrary Road. William owned land north of Harbin Road and east of Wall-Triana Highway. John Pike eventually took his family to Arkansas, but the others remained in this area, populating much of the area around Monrovia.
Census, marriage, and probate records of Madison County give extensive data about the Pike families through time in this location. However, one cannot help but wonder if the local families are connected to the famous American explorer and soldier Zebulon Pike (1779-1813), namesake of Pike’s Peak in Colorado. Zebulon was born in New Jersey according to Wikipedia, the on-line encyclopedia, and any connection to the Pike families of Virginia is as yet unknown. Perhaps some day our Madison County Pike pioneer descendants will likewise be commemorated for their accomplishments.