Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Samuel Davidson Place, Bee Tree, 1828

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Samuel Davidson Place, Bee Tree, 1828

"In 1928, WNC Left Dr. William Blanding in Awe" by Rob Neufeld (Ashville Citizen-Times, 4 January 2021).

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Buncombe Turnpike

 The Buncombe Turnpike, the big commercial enterprise of antebellum Western North Carolina, arrives at a resort in Hickory Nut Gap, as depicted in the mural at the McClure-Ager home in Fairview.

Source: Asheville Citizen Times (Asheville, NC), 12 October 2020.

See: Drovers' Road

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Zebulon Baird Vance Monument (Asheville, NC)

The Vance Monument in Asheville, NC, is a tribute to a white supremacist, the leader of a political party that destroyed the promise of Reconstruction and imposed segregation upon North Carolina. The monument is a towering insult to African-Americans, an affront to American ideals and an embarrassment to the city of Asheville.

Zebulon Baird Vance (1830-1894)

1. Slave owner. Son of a slave owner.

2. Opposed secession until Fort Sumter was fired on/Lincoln asked North Carolina for troops. By the time North Carolina seceeded Vance was a captain commanding a company known as the "Rough and Ready Guards." Later he was elected colonel of the 26th North Carolina Troops, which he ably led in battle at New Bern in March 1862 and shortly afterwards in the Seven Days fighting before Richmond. Thus, Vance fought for the Confederacy.

3. Vance was elected North Carolina governor in 1862. While he had disputes with the "central" Confederate government in Richmond, Virginia, he never waivered in his support of the Confederate cause.

4. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Zebulon Vance owned six slaves. After the war he stated the following about "perfect negro equality": "There are indications that the radical abolitionists … intend to force perfect negro equality upon us. Should this be done, and there is nothing to prevent it, it will revive an already half formed determination in me to leave the U.S. forever."

5. Later, in 1870, Vance stated: "[T]he African negro, the descendants of barbarian tribes who for 4,000 years have contributed nothing to, though in close contact with, civilization."

6. Having a North Carolina county named for him, Vance County, Zebulon Vance referred to it as "Zeb's Black Baby."

7. Vance attempted to make a distinction between civil rights and social rights in 1874, stating the following with respect to a bill introduced in the US House of Representatives: "There is no railway car in all the South which the colored man cannot ride in. That is his civil right. This bill proposes that he should have the opportunity or the right to go into a first-class car and sit with white gentlemen and white ladies. I submit if that is not a social right. There is a distinction between the two.” "No race, sir, in the world has been able to stand before the pure Caucasian. An antagonism of races will not be good for the colored man." "It [the bill] begets hopes and raises an ambition in the minds of the colored man that can never be realized."

8. As late as 1878 Vance voiced his opposition to emancipation at a meeting of African Americans celebrating Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: "I appear in your meeting to-day simply to acknowledge the respect you have shown me by inviting me as the Governor of the State to visit your assemblage. You cannot of course expect me to join with you in celebrating this day, the anniversary of that emancipation which I struggled so long to prevent, and which I, in common with all the people of my race in the South, regard as an act of unconstitutional violence to the one party, and as an injury to the other." Thus, Vance regarded the Emancipation Proclamation as an act of unconstitutional violence.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

CCHA 2020 Membership Drive

As of January 1, 2020, the Caswell County Historical Association (CCHA) launched a drive to retain existing members and to attract new members.

Why stay or join?

CCHA Membership Benefits Include:

Newsletter published quarterly (four issues/year)
Free Museum admission
10% off price of items sold at Museum
One hour free research
$15 (instead of $25) for additional fixed-fee research
10% off additional hourly-rate research
Access to the Members-Only Area of the CCHA website

Not enough? Just consider the effort that goes into the following:

CCHA Website

Caswell County Genealogy

Caswell County Photograph Collection

CCHA Weblog

CCHA on Facebook

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Ransom Frederick Land Grant

North Carolina Land Grants

File No. 99 (No. 176), Ransom Frederick, 19.80 acres on the waters of Storys and Richland Creek

State of North Carolina

Know ye that we have granted unto Ransom Frederick nineteen and eight tenths acres of land in Person County on the waters of Story's and Richland Creek. Beginning at an Ash and pointers [at] Reuben Walton's corner in Tapp's line running thence east with said Walton's line eight chains and twenty five links to a pine stump and pointers said to by Byasees corner then south twenty four chains to a stake in Charles S. Winstead's line thence west eight chains and twenty five links to a rock, thence north on Tapp's line twenty four chains to the beginning. Entered 21st Febry 1856. To hold to the said Ransom Frederick his heirs and assigns forever. Dated 22nd Sept 1856.

Wm Hill Secretary          Th. Bragg



Land Grant
99 Frederick, Ransom  19 8/10  Feb. 21, 1856  Story's & Richland Cr. adj Land of George Tapp, dec., Charles G. Winstead, cc John Long, Robt. Westbrook
Source: Person County North Carolina Compilations (Land Grants, 1794, 1805, 1823 Tax Lists, Record Books Abstracts 1792-1820, Letters of Attorney, Katharine Kerr Kendall (1978) at 21.

It appears that the property began at an ash tree where the land of Rebuben Walton and George Tapp came together, with the Walton land being to the north and the Tapp land to the west. From the ash tree the line proceeded east along Walton's line to a pine stump at the corner of land owned by what appears to be "Byasees." Thus, this Byasees owned the land to the east. From the pine stump the line proceeded south to a stake in Charles Winstead's line, thus indicating that Winstead owned the property to the south adjacent to the Byasees land. The line then ran west to a rock, presumably at the interesection of the Winstead and Tapp lands. The final leg was north from this rock along Tapp's line back to the beginning ash tree. The chain carriers apparently were John Long and Robert Westbrook.

If the land grant was on both Story's Creek and Richland Creek it must have been where these two streams are close. Does one run into the other. But, they do not. Both run generally to the north, with Richland Creek being to the west of Story's Creek. Did the Ransom Frederick land grant extend from one creek to the other? We know that Ransom Frederick lived in Olive Hill Township, Person County, North Carolina. Richland Creek runs within that township, Story's Creek does not. The closest Richland Creek comes to Story's Creek is about a mile.

At the time of the 1860 United States Federal Census Ransom Frederick (Fedrick) was shown living in that part of Person County associated with the Hurdle Mills Post Office. This is substantially south of both Richland Creek and Story's Creek. However, the following 1870 United States Federal Census suggests that Ransom Frederick had moved his family to Olive Hill Township, through which flows Richland Creek.

Reuben Walton is the father-in-law of Ransom Frederick, being the father of Joanna Walton, wife of Ransom Frederick.

The 1850 United States Federal census shows Reuben Walton living adjacent to George Tapp, but no location within Person County is provided. Both men were in their 70s. A few doors away is an entry for what appears to be Thomas Byape.

Ruth Davidson (1765-1826) NSDAR

Ruth Davidson

"Ruth Davidson, a woman handsome in appearance, was remarkably bright and attractive. She and her entire family were ardent Whigs. It is said that after the defeat of the American Army at Camden, S.C., when the Brits were preparing to invade our State [North Carolina], General Green [Greene], who was in the hills of Virginia reorganizing his forces, was anxious to communicate with some detached American troops in South Carolina.

"It was almost impossible to do this on account of the activities of Tarleton and Ferguson. . . . It was necessary to send a message through the sparsely settled region along the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Ruth volunteered to be the messenger and without an escort or guide succeeded in delivering the message.

"Thus another brave woman was honored when a [DAR] chapter in Asheville was called the Ruth Davidson Chapter."

Source: Pendleton, Hazel E. "Patriotic Women of North Carolina for Whom DAR Chapters are Named." DAR Magazine, 1962.

Ruth Davidson Chapter NSDAR

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Walton War

After the Revolutionary War concluded the issue continued with respect to western lands claimed by the original states. These lands eventually were ceded to the United States to be used to pay soldiers and applied toward the national debt. This required, among other things, that the boundary line between North Carolina and South Carolina be completed:

"Commissioners Appointed in 1814. Pursuant to the above provisional articles of agreement North Carolina in 1814 appointed Gen. Thomas Love, Gen. Montfort Stokes and Col. John Patton commissioners to meet other commissioners from South Carolina to run and mark the boundary line between the two States in accordance with the recommendation of the commissioners who had met and agreed, "at McKinney's on Toxaway river on the 4th of Sept. 1813."

Other Early Explorers: In the case of Avery v. Walker, (8 N. C., p. 117) it appears . . . that Col. John Patton, the father of Lorenzo and Montreville Patton of Buncombe, and who owned the meadow land on the Swannanoa river which was sold to George W. Vanderbilt by Preston Patton, and the "haunted house" at the ford of that river, when the stage road left South Main street at what is now Victoria Road and crossed the Swannanoa, there, instead of at Biltmore, was then county surveyor of Buncombe, and refused to survey land on Ocona Lufty for Waightstill Avery because it was "on the frontier and the Indian boundary had not then actually been run out, and it might be dangerous to survey near the line."

Source: Arthur, John Preston. Western North Carolina: A History from 1730 to 1913. Published 1914 by the Edward Buncombe Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution of Asheville. Reprint Edition: Johnson City, Tennessee: The Overmountain Press, 1996 (pages 29-30 and 77-78).

Today it seems unlikely that a tract of land lying within the present bounds of Transylvania County would have been claimed as part of the State of Georgia. But that was the case when in 1803 Georgia laid claim to the territory and named a new county for George Walton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. North Carolina led by Gov. James Turner actively defended their claim leading to confusion for the 800 or so residents of the region. The dispute was submitted to Congress, where a committee initially accepted Georgia's claim, arguing that a twelve-mile-wide strip had legitimately been ceded to that state by the federal government. Commissioners were authorized to survey a line along the 35th parallel, then accepted as the state boundary.

Meanwhile lawlessness prevailed in the area. It was difficult for Buncombe County to collect taxes from individuals viewing themselves as Georgia residents. Events came to a head late in 1804 when three citizens were assaulted by Waltonians. One of them, Constable John Havner, was struck over the left eye with the butt of a rifle and mortally wounded. Upon his death, on December 15, the colonel of the Buncombe County militia ordered out a detachment of seventy-two men and marched them into "Walton County." Ten Walton officials were taken prisoner, but escaped before they were brought to trial.

On June 15, 1807, officials of the two states met at the Buncombe County Courthouse and set out to fix the boundary. Joseph Caldwell of the University of North Carolina and Joseph Meigs of Georgia used scientific equipment to take astronomical readings and fix the 35th parallel. The first place they took a reading, they found, was twenty miles north of that line. All subsequent readings taken were also well north of the 35th parallel. The Georgia commissioners were "astonished and mortified." They relinquished claim to the territory the same year and amnesty was granted to those responsible for the violence, but confusion reigned for some time to come. The 1810 census listed residents of Walton County. In 1818 Georgia created a new county elsewhere and named it for George Walton. As recently as 1971 Georgia considered reopening a separate dispute about the boundary and the North Carolina legislature "in a jocular mood" mobilized the National Guard to protect the state from usurpers.


Martin Reidinger, "The Walton War and the Georgia-North Carolina Boundary Dispute," (unpublished manuscript, copy in the North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1981).

Marvin L. Skaggs, North Carolina Boundary Disputes Involving Her Southern Line (1941).

John Preston Arthur, Western North Carolina: A History (1914).

Daniel R. Goodloe, “The North Carolina and Georgia Boundary,” North Carolina Booklet, III, no. 12 (April 1904): 5-22.

William S. Powell, North Carolina through Four Centuries (1989).