Saturday, March 29, 2014

Alexander-Davidson Family Reunion 1911

Alexander-Davidson Reunion 26 August 1911

Arrangements are being perfected for a reunion of the Alexander and Davidson families at or near Swannanoa on August 26.

James Alexander, better known as "Jimpsey" Alexander, and Maj. William Davidson, the ancestors of these two families of which there are nearly a thousand living descendants scattered throughout the country, were of the famous Scotch-Irish people who settled the Piedmont section of North and South Carolina, and were especially prominent in the discussions of the questions which led to the Revolution, in which they took a very active part. Immediately after the close of the Revolutionary War the two above named pioneers crossed the Blue Ridge mountains in company and purchased lands adjoining each other and settled on the Swannanoa River at the mouth of Bee Tree creek.

These pioneers were closely related by family ties as well as political and religious associations and ideas. Their descendants have until the present day owned and occupied the lands which their forefathers acquired. During all this period their relations have been close in every walk of life.

The descendants of both of these families are now to be found throughout the United States, and many of them have borne honorable parts in the public event's of the country.

It is desired by those interested in the reunion to assemble as many of the descendants at or near the old homesteads as possible, and every person who is nearly or remotely related to or connected with either or both of these families is cordially invited to attend and this publication will serve the purpose of extending that invitation to those who may be overlooked in any special invitations which may be issued.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Samuel Price Carson (1798-1838)

About two miles east of the Carson House sat the home of Joseph McDowell. It was named Pleasant Gardens. John Carson married McDowell's widow in 1797. Mary Moffitt McDowell moved into the Carson House and brought with her the name of her former residence, Pleasant Gardens. In her second home of that name, she gave birth in 1798 to a son, Samuel Price Carson. Beside serving as a North Carolina legislator, Samuel Carson was elected to the United States Congress in 1825 at age 26. He was reelected in 1827 in a bitter campaign that resulted in his duel with Dr. Robert Vance. Carson was a strong supporter of Andrew Jackson. He served in Congress alongside Sam Houston and Crockett, though Carson's friendship with Crockett was strained for a time by Crockett's antagonism toward President Jackson.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Newton Academy and Cemetery

Newton School was built in 1922 and he remembers the principal (see file). Originally Union Hill Academy was, with several other buildings, on this location. For several years the school ceased to exist and the city, in agreement with the trustees, built and opened Newton. It operated until 1982 when, due to integration, the school was not large enough to accommodate the number of children required [however Jesse Ray's children attended - see his tape re: integration. The school building was said to be unsafe when it was closed suddenly during the school year of 1982.]. The land was leased from the Stevens' Family Trust. When the city was unable to use the building it was turned back to the trust. The trust stipulated that the land be used to operate a school. Jack, head of the trust and a member of the Community Foundation Board (see Imogene "Cissie" Stevens tape), devised legal means for the land to be given to the Community Foundation which could sell a portion of the school property and use the proceeds for educational purposes. [Mrs. Mabel Snowden, Jack Stevens]

Smith-McDowell House

to the Smith-McDowell House

Historic photo of the front elevation of the house

Historic photo of the front elevation of the house

The Smith-McDowell House is the oldest surviving house in Asheville and the oldest brick structure in Buncombe County. Pictured here in a McDowell family photograph from 1875, the house is seen as it was originally constructed and landscaped. Today Smith-McDowell House is a blend of architectural styles dating from its original 1840 construction and additions completed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a Local Historic Landmark and is included in the National Register of Historic Places.

Early Brick Structures in Asheville

When constructed in circa 1840, James Smith's brick farmhouse was highly atypical for antebellum Western North Carolina. Prior to the Civil War, most homes were log cabins or roughly fashioned frame houses. An 1824 visitor to Asheville reported that there were four brick structures--a jail, three dwellings, and that the foundation for a brick courthouse had been laid. The low number of brick buildings did not result from a lack of raw materials. The soils of the region provided plenty of clay deposits suitable for brick making and rock deposits across the southern end of the county provided quicklime. In fact, bricks had been manufactured locally in small quantities for use in chimneys as early as the 1790s. However, to build a large structure of brick took many laborers to make bricks and skilled bricklayers to construct the building. In 1840, it took a man of great wealth to build a brick mansion such as the Smith-McDowell House.

Asheville Colored Cemetery

It would appear that many persons, particularly those who settled the South Asheville Community were related. There is evidence that there were large family clans who were buried in the cemetery. The descendants who live nearby, today, say that they are related thusly: the Pattons to the Millers, the Millers to the Hemphills, the Hemphills to the Averys, the Averys to the Williams, the Williams to the Harpers, and the Harpers to the Paynes.
Illegitimacy appeared to be widespread, or, perhaps, information about black deaths was recorded haphazardly, or many blacks who were born into slavery did not know who their fathers were.
The writer saw only one instance supported by written documentation, of a burial in the South Asheville Colored Cemetery. That was the funeral program of David B. Shields, the father of Mrs. Saint Ola Mapp of Asheville.

Riverside Cemetery (Asheville, North Carolina)

The Riverside Cemetery encompasses 87 acres of rolling hills and flower gardens overlooking the French Broad River. Riverside Cemetery dates to 1885, when the Asheville Cemetery Company established the land as a municipal graveyard to answer the growing need for burial grounds. The City of Asheville adopted the cemetery in 1952. It is still an active cemetery with more than 13,000 people buried here, 9000 monuments and 12 family mausoleums. Many of the graves in Riverside contain remains which were removed from other burial grounds and re-interred here. Once inside the large iron gates, you may take a self-guided walking tour through ancient oak, poplar, dogwood and ginkgo trees.

Riverside is the burial place of noted authors Thomas Wolfe and William Sidney Porter, better known as O. Henry. You can learn about Confederate generals James Martin, Robert B. Vance and Thomas Clingman. Some of the names recorded in Riverside Cemetery are those of the city's most prominent citizens: Jeter C. Pritchard, T. S. Morrison, Thomas Patton, and Zebulon B. Vance. Individuals of note interred at Riverside Cemetery include: Isacc Dickson, the first African American to be appointed to an Asheville City School Board; Quenn Carson, Asheville's first female public school principal; George Masa, a Japanese photographer who documented much of the Blue Ridge Mountains and was integral in the establishment of Great Smokey Mountains National Park; James H. Posey, a bodyguard to Abraham Lincoln; and the remains of 18 German sailors from WWI. Riverside Cemetery is maintained by the City of Asheville, Parks and Recreation Department and has been designated a Buncombe County Treasure Tree Preserve.

Riverside Cemetery is located along Birch St. off Pearson Dr. within the Montford Area Historic District. Visitors are welcome 8:00am to 8:00pm during daylight savings time, and until 6:00pm the rest of the year. Self-guided tour packets are available at Riverside Cemetery office Monday-Friday, 8:00am to 4:30pm. For information visit the City of Asheville's Parks and Recreation Department website or call 828-350-2066.