Monday, December 19, 2022

Buncombe County, North Carolina, 1857 Tax Report


"Report of the North Carolina Comptroller of Public Accounts, for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 1857."

"Statement, Exhibiting the valuation of real estate, and the Taxes derived from each subject of taxation in the several Counties of the State; also the Taxes levied by the Courts of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for County purposes, as follows."

Source: The Weekly Standard (Raleigh, North Carolina), Wednesday, 27 January 1858

 [ - accessed 19 December 2022].

Friday, January 7, 2022

Thomas Gunn Ancestry

Thomas Gunn, Jr. (ca. 1738 VA - 1800 NC), James B. Kerner (2007)

Thomas2 Gunn, Jr. (Thomas Gunn, Sr.1) was born in or near Amelia County, VA circa 1738.18 Amelia County, VA was formed from Brunswick and Prince George Counties in 1734. Nottoway Co., VA was formed from Amelia County in 1788. Before Nottoway County established its own government, it was known as Nottoway Parish, a district of Amelia County. Thomas served in the Virginia Colonial Militia during the French and Indian War. He was paid five pounds, six shillings for militia service in 1756, During the French and Indian War, the Virginia House of Burgesses passed an act for the defense of the frontier of the colony on September 14, 1758. Thomas Gunn was among those soldiers mentioned in the schedules attached to that act. Thomas was listed in the Amelia County unit.

Thomas Gunn (or his father) was mentioned in court records in Lunenburg Co., VA in 1758. Note: Lunenburg Co., VA was formed from Brunswick Co., VA in 1746. On April 4, 1758, Thomas Gunn of Amelia Co., VA purchased 300 acres near his sister, Edith Hogan, on the north side of the Roanoke River in Lunenburg Co., VA, (present-day Mecklenburg Co., VA). Note: Mecklenburg Co., VA was formed from part of Lunenburg Co., VA in 1765.

Thomas Gunn (or his father) was listed as a resident of Lunenburg Co., VA per the 1760 tax lists.

Hanging of Sneed and Henry: Dr. James Freeman Eppes Hardy, M.D. (1802-1882)

At Asheville [May 1835]

In the following excerpt, Allen Turner Davidson1 describes the events surrounding his trip as a sixteen-year-old to see the hanging in Asheville of James Sneed and James Henry. [footnotes and paragraph breaks added.]

"But when we got on the top of the hill west of the French Broad river, and looked down and saw the splendid river and the long narrow bridge, then known as Smith's bridge,2 I was carried away completely. It was the largest river and the longest bridge I had seen. The bridge was kept by William Irwin3, I think. He lived at the same old house which stood there till recently on the west side of the river. We came straight up the hill to the top, where Melke's4 house stands, and where the old log Baptist church used to stand.

"I then began to see signs of 'town' by that time, and my eyes began to shine. I remember distinctly to have seen the fields about the present station of the railroad. Branan Patton5 lived there then. Aunt Mary Smith6, Dan'l's wife7, lived above on the river, whose house we could not see from that point, but we could see the curling smoke of the evening meal ascending from the habitation. These were pointed out to me by Paxton Cumming8, who had ridden this circuit and knew all the points of interest round about.

Smith's Bridge (Asheville, North Carolina)

"A Tale of Two Bridges: How the Smith-McDowell House is Tied to Spans of the French Broad River" by John Turk

Smith's Bridge

How did the builder of the Smith-McDowell House make his money? The old-fashioned way: he earned it. At first his fortune was based upon real estate; in 1826, he bought the land on which he would later build the house. But this was just the beginning. While he eventually built an empire based on earnings from his hotel, general store, and other enterprises, his first real moneymaker was a bridge.

In the 1820s, the Buncombe Turnpike was constructed to replace and organize myriad trails used to herd livestock from Tennessee and North Carolina to railroad connections in South Carolina. In Buncombe County, a good deal of this turnpike ran along the east bank of the French Broad River. Smith immediately identified a problem: How do the thousands of small farmers on the west side of the river get their livestock across the river so they can hook up with the turnpike? His solution: build a bridge.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Samuel Davidson Place, Bee Tree, 1828

Click to See Larger Image
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.