Friday, July 30, 2010

The Descendants of Captain Edmund Sams of Buncombe County, North Carolina

The Descendants of Captain Edmund Sams of Buncombe County, North Carolina (2010)

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Edmund Sams (1750-1845)

John Jarrett was for many years a resident of Buncombe County. In later life he lived on the western bank of the French Broad River, at the place where once the old Smith Bridge and now a concrete bridge at Asheville crosses. There had never been a bridge across that river near Asheville at that time, however. Many years before a ferry had been established at that point by Edmund Sams.

Edmund Sams was one of the settlers who came from Watauga. He lived first at the Smith Bridge place just mentioned and later, on the western side of the French Broad River, on that place later known as the Gaston place, about one mile, or maybe not so far, above the mouth of Swannanoa. He had been, in early life, an Indian fighter. On one occasion, when, in search of some Indian depredators, he was passing through the woods with a single companion, his friend and fellow soldier, he heard a gun fire very near, and turning saw that his friend had received a death wound. Supposing this to have been done by some Indian behind a tree, he quickly placed his gun to his shoulder and called out to his dying companion; "Where is he?" The friend replied, "Why, Edmund, it was your gun." This proved to be correct. His gun carried on his shoulder had been discharged by accident, and had killed his friend behind him. This event saddened the entire after life of Mr. Sams. Later he was engaged as a soldier on the American side in the Revolutionary War and was a captain. When the County of Buncombe was organized he was elected its first coroner. Afterwards he served as a member of the County Court. He was for many years a trustee of Newton Academy. During the latter part of his life he resided upon the farm of his son-in-law, Thomas Foster, about a fourth of a mile above the latter's residence. He was an eccentric and highly excitable old man. Exceedingly fond of music, especially of a martial character, he used to explain to one of his little granddaughters the emotions which he betrayed when listening to some lively tune by saying, "I tell you what, my little daughter, it just puts me on top of Buncombe."

As he grew older he became very fond of feeding his son-inlaw's cattle, and would indulge this propensity to such an extent that many times the cattle were in danger of being foundered. Captain Foster gently remonstrated with the old gentleman on this subject, but without effect. Some mornings when out a little earlier than usual in the vicinity of his father-in-Iaw's house, the son-in-law would hear the old gentleman talking in reference to this to a pet cow while giving her an unreasonable quantity of food, and saying: "Hurry up, old lady, Tommie's coming." In 1824 his son Benoni Sams was one of Buncombe's representatives in the House of Commons, having for his colleague D. L. Swain.

Edmund Sams married Nancy Young near Wytheville, Virginia. Her sister, Martha Young, married William Gudger, Senior, who also removed to what became Buncombe County and settled on Swannanoa River just below the Old Water Works on land now belonging to Mr. M. L. Reed. These Gudgers became progenitors of the large family of Gudgers and their descendants now living in Western North Carolina. Although James M. Smith was the first white child born in what afterwards became Buncombe County, having been bom June 14, 1787, yet James Gudger, son of William and Martha Gudger, was a little older than Mr. Smith, and was the first white citizen of that same territory who was bom as such. On account of danger from marauding Cherokee Indians, Mrs. Martha Gudger at the time of the birth of he'.;loldest son James Gudger, was on a visit to her parents in Virginia. This Mr. James Gudger married a daughter of Colonel Robert Love, of Haywood County, anc,llived in the northwestern part of the County of Buncombe, which he represented in the State Senate of North Carolina in 1830 and 1836.

As has been remarked above, Edmund Sams was remarkably fond of military music. He was also fond of church music, which, in his day, was usually sung in a drawling time "in linked sweetness long drawn out." Once a singing master visited his neighborhood and taught a singing school. The choir of young people trained at this school sang a "voluntary" at a church service which Captain Sams attended accompanied by a little great-granddaughter. The singing master led in singing this "voluntary" and sang in better time than was common in the church gatherings, but not without consternation on the part of most of the congregation. Captain Sams listened in amazement. When the song had been finished he turned to his little girl companion and exclaimed: "Well, upon my soul, my little daughter, that was a merry little jig!"

Source: Asheville and Buncombe County, F. A. Sondley; Genesis of Buncombe County, Theodore F. Davidson (1922) at 95-97.

Edmund Sams was the first coroner of Buncombe County, being appointed to that position in 1792.


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