In the years following the formation of the United States, the population of Central North Carolina grew steadily in number. The 1790 North Carolina census for Cumberland, Richmond, Robeson, and Moore Counties listed 31 households of Buies composed of 108 males, and 88 females. In 1800, there were 34 Buie households which included 62 males under the age of 26. Of course, some of the individuals living in these households wore another surname. The land was becoming scarce with the continuous division of estates, and soon many of these young Buies looked westward where untouched land was plentiful. Thus, beginning about 1800, there was a steady and continuous exodus of families out of their home state toward other states and territories to the west and southwest. These pioneers faced untold hardships as they challenged the vast frontier, but their spirit and stamina, inherited from their rugged fathers, allowed them to overcome all adversity.
The brothers Malcolm and John Buie of Cumberland County were two of the first
to go in 1805. They settled in Tattnall County, Georgia and were soon joined by their younger brother Archibald. The brothers' uncle, Piper Archie, gave them several slaves in his 1805 will, and, not wishing to break up the servants' families, humanely stipulated that none of the slaves "shall be compelled to go with them to Georgia except them that are willing to go". The brothers lived in Georgia until about 1820-25 when Malcolm moved to Decatur County, Georgia, and John and Archibald resettled in Gadsden County, Florida. Several of the descendents of these Buies eventually lived in Henry County, Alabama and others moved westward to East Texas.
Piper Archie's nephews were not the only Buies in Georgia during this early time for also in 1805, several of the children of John Buie, who lived on Upper Little River in Cumberland County, traveled to Bulloch County, Georgia. Sarah Buie and her brother Daniel later returned to North Carolina, but Archibald remained in Georgia. The other brothers, John and Malcolm, stayed in Cumberland County to be near their father, but after his death in 1823, the two left for Tennessee with John going to Robertson County and Malcolm to Henry County.
When the Louisiana Purchase opened the Mississippi River in 1803, lands in Mississippi became attractive to the Buies and other Scots of North Carolina. Many received word in 1806 from George and Dougaid Torrey, Laughlin Currie and Robert Willis that fertile land near where they were farming in Jefferson County of the Natchez District was readily available. Soon, several Buie families left Robeson and Moore Counties and headed for the Mississippi. The most common route was via the Natchez Trace. By 1810, three men and their families namely John F. "Bouie", Daniel "Bouye" and Neill "Buie" were listed on the Natchez District Census. Some historians contend that a Buie was in the Jefferson County area as early as 1800 and there was a settlement there known as "Buie", but this information is not confirmed. John F. Buie moved to Adams County in 1816 and had a family, but no further data is available. There is some question as to whether his last name was actually "Bowie".
By 1817, there were enough Scotch settlers in the eastern portion of Jefferson County to form a church, and on March 2 of that year, a group of Presbyterians formed Union Church. The charter members were John and Elizabeth Buie, Daniel and Margaret Buie, Neill and Catherine Buie, Malcolm and Nepsy Buie, Neill, Sr. and Dorothy Buie, Gilbert and Catherine Buie, Daniel and Margaret Baker, Archibald and Sarah Smith, Matthew and Rebecca Smylie, Archibald and Mary Brown, John and Catherine McDougald, Angus and Mary Patterson. The Buies served Union Church for many years and among the Ruling Elders were Neil Buie, Jr., John Buie, Sr., John Buie, Jr., and Daniel Grafton Buie. Deacons included Gilbert M. Buie and Isaac Newton Buie. Also living in the Union Church area during the early period was John Buie the Shoemaker.
For several years after the formation of Union Church, sermons were orated in English and then for the benefit of the older members, the address was translated into Gaelic. This practice continued until the 1830's. Today, the Gaelic language is extinct among Buie families in America.
One of the early pastors, Rev. C. W. Grafton, wrote of the early life around Union Church. "The people in the early days were noted for simplicity of their manners. They were not wealthy. They were plain, unpretending, honest people...The period between 1820 and 1830 might be called the romance period of the Scottish settlement. Everything was young, bright, fresh, and full of life and vigor. The country abounded in game and the streams in fish. The lowlands and sometimes the hills were covered with canebreaks. Farming was an easy matter at that day. Burn away the brakes and plant your corn and you would be sure of a harvest. Natchez was the market town for the country...and it was a great occasion for a farmer to yoke up his oxen and start to market with the whole week before him for going and returning. Some of the old Scotch were not adverse to strong drink and coming back with a jug of Scotch whiskey their animal spirits would be stirred on the way and their homecoming would be loudly advertised. But such a one would unfailingly be brought before his brethren in the church and he would be certain of a reprimand and would probably be excommunicated for a while. The old records of Union Church abound in illustrations of the faithful dealings of the elders with their brethren. Let a man be overtaken in a fault, such as violating the Sabbath day, or taking God's name in vain, or becoming intoxicated, and he was certain of discipline by the church. And this faithful attitude of the Ruling Elders doubtless saved many an erring brother."
John Buie, Sr., one of the elders at Union Church wrote two letters to his cousin Neill Brown back in Robeson County which revealed much about the everyday life at the settlement. In November, 1824, he related "I hope religion is gaining ground in this section of the country. The different denominations are becoming more friendly especially Methodist and Presbyterian which I think is a good omen. We have made a tolerable good crop. We lack for none of the necessities of life. Friends and neighbors here are all well. " In December of the next year, John wrote "John, Jennet, Catherine, and Anabel are still living with me and all are in good health except Catherine, who had a severe spell of the third day ache and fever, for the space of four months; she is getting some better, but has fevers yet (this was probably malaria). We have a quarter section of land, and a beautiful situation, and twenty-five acres of land under cultivation. The only inconvenience that attends our place is the lack of drinking water which we have to haul a mile. We have made three attempts to dig wells but have failed in getting water. We expect to dig another soon. We have made a tolerable good crop of cotton and corn this year. We also have a good stock of hogs and cattle. Our hogs will be excellent pork. We lack for nothing to render life comfortable...We have Rev. William Montgomery for our pastor. He preaches for us every third Sabbath. He is an able Divine."
A few years later another group of Scotch pioneers made their way to Union Church. The account of Mrs. Kate McGeachy Buie reads "In the year 1841 some of the Buie connections moved to Arkansas. Several families joined together forming quite a party. When they reached their destination they stayed as near together as they could get land to locate on. In the party were McCorveys, McAlpines, Wilkersons, Rays, a Croatan Indian named McGilverary Braboy, and others. They took several negro servants. They carried all their household goods they could find room for. The women took their spinning wheels. The men furnished each his own team of horses, mules, not then being in general use. Before they started the men made their own wagons, doing the wood and iron work in their own shops, for in those days there were no ready made wagons near. In the party were wives and children and babies. They traveled at their leisure, camping when they found a good place or were tired. When they came to the "Buie settlement" as the place where their kinfolk were located, being the home of Malcolm Buie and others in Hississippi, they halted for a time, and as it was springtime and their grain provisions were running short, they rented land and made a good farm crop. When this was harvested they moved on again to Arkansas. The men were good hunters and as game was plentiful all along the route they kept the party well supplied with fresh meat. Deer, wild turkeys, and wild hogs were abundant." This group made their way to Union County, Arkansas, and settled near the present town of Junction City.