I'm one of those who went another route than the Bertie Co. Connection, and I've refocused my research on the old Rowan Co. area as well. I think Pennsylvania is one possibility, but there is DNA profiles that connect a James Freeman in Bedford Co. Virginia to Aaron Freeman in Rowan Co. North Carolina. The two families have no proven connection through records as of yet, but they are connected by a common ancestor through DNA. If you haven't visited the Freeman DNA project, it's a good sight to look at -- http://carnicle.com/DNA_Project//
. Also, a great book that goes into the history of the old Rowan Co. area is Carolina Cradle: Settlement of the Northwest Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762 by Robert W. Ramsey. It talks about the early settlement, including the Pennsylvania connection you are refering to. When I first went a different direction than the Bertie Co. line, I got a lot of flack from people who insisted I was wrong. Glad to see someone else looking into possibilities.