There was a John Hughes in Burke Co. near Morganton, NC as early as 1785. "John Hughes, Jacob Forney, and Samuel Hughey were bonded in 1785" (To run a tavern) --- " In 1826 Thomas Hughes was the proprietor of the Tavern in place of John Hughes".
He is listed as the county coroner in 1796. There are other Hughes in the area and I know for a fact that John Hughes had at least one land grant and possilby more. Oddly enough there are no Letterman's listed in the very good history that I have of that county.