Thursday, July 4, 2019

Daniel Smith's "Long Tom"

Visiting Our Past: More WNC artifacts in Mr. Smith's musket and a WWII poster

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Daniel Smith's Musket

"Long Tom" is the name that Buncombe County pioneer Daniel Smith gave his 6-foot-long flintlock musket.

He had it during Rutherford's Campaign against The Cherokee in 1776. He used it at the Battle of Kings Mountain, the decisive defeat of the British by Revolutionary "Overmountain Men" in 1780.

He "was sentimentally proud of his revolutionary services, (and) frequently referred to that in conversation," his friend David Lowry Swain, state governor and then UNC president, testified in 1845 in support of the Smith children's pension application.

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"Long Tom" went with Smith to Western North Carolina, where he settled in 1785, avenging the murder of his wife's uncle, settler Col. Samuel Davidson, by Indians in Swannanoa. After building a home on a hill (probably at the site of present-day Fernihurst) above what is now called Nasty Branch south of Depot Street, Smith took his rifle with him to the public square in newly created Asheville, where he was "almost daily seen," historian Foster Sondley noted in 1912, "mounted on his large white horse," acknowledged as a legendary "Indian killer."

Monday, July 1, 2019

Zeb Vance found his value in Reems Creek

Zebulon Baird Vance
"Zeb Vance found his value in Reems Creek" by Rob Neufeld (Asheville Citizen-Times, 1 July 2019)

When David Vance, grandfather of future governor Zebulon Vance, moved to Reems Creek in the late 1780s, he was one of several settlers with Revolutionary War pasts who were looking to be part of what he considered an ideal community. That involved a large family, a working farm, a nearby church, a water powered mill, and some kind of school and slaves.

The condition of slaves lives and of the lives of freedmen, before and after Emancipation, varied greatly. The Vances perpetrated a big family model, which involved kindness and love as well as paternalism and bondage.

When David Vance was dying in 1813 he expressed in his will the desire that his two families of slaves, headed by Richard and Aggy and Jo and Leah, be given "full liberty." "Full liberty" meant, in that time and place, freedom to choose their households, to travel, and to not worry about losing their children. The State slave code required approval by a county court for emancipating the slaves. It also required that freedmen carry and present documents when they were away from their homes. The Vance's "liberated" slaves had to have tickets from their owners as permission to travel. All slaves and freedmen had to fear white men who were given license to shoot runaways.