Wednesday, December 7, 2016

McDowells, from Galloway to America

The monks of Holyrood in Edinburgh, where he lived his last days, called him “Prince” Fergus. They were alluding to his marriage with Princess Elizabeth, one of the many illegitimate children of King Henry I of England. Elizabeth’s mother was likely Princess Nest ferch Rhys of Wales, known to have also borne a son named after Henry.*

Fergus, Lord of Galloway, had been named the first such lord by Scotland’s King David I, whose sister Matilda happened to be Henry I’s wife. Fergus and David shared family ties to the English king and they would remain faithful in their support of him as long as Henry occupied the throne. Fergus and Elizabeth's offspring gave rise to the clan of Dougall, anglicized Dowell, known by the 13th century as MacDowell. Their oldest son Uchtred,** second Lord of Galloway, had a son named Dowall (or Duegald, in Gaelic). It was from Dowall that the McDowell name branched forth.
Galloway was unique within Britain during the early Middle Ages. Geographically, it occupied the southwest coastal border of Scotland, with Ireland in view from points along the sea coast. For four generations, beginning with Fergus, the Lords of Galloway were an independent dynasty within Britain. Royal charters during that time were addressed: “To all good men, French, English, Scots, and Galwegians.” Over generations, though, power ultimately changed hands and allegiances shifted. After the death in 1234 of Alan, the fourth Lord of Galloway, King Alexander II of Scotland forced the leadership of Galloway to be partitioned between Alan's three surviving legitimate daughters. (There had been no legitimate sons.) Alexander’s goal was to secure Galloway under Scottish rule and he was successful. Galwegian independence was no more.
John McDowell, born in 1575 to Uchtred MacDowell, 10th Lord of Garthland in Galloway, initiated the McDowell family's migration westward from Scotland. By 1595, John was living in County Antrim, Ulster, Ireland, as a political exile. He had settled in Glenoe, in the parish of Raloo near Larne, where he met and married Irish native Mary Wylie. Grandson Thomas, son of their first-born Alexander and his wife Margaret Hall, was father of Joseph, John, William, Alexander, and Ephraim, some of the earliest McDowells to survive the Atlantic crossing and make America their new home. 
*“Nesta” had been taken hostage by England during the relentless border wars with Wales. England became her home. The King, already married to Matilda, the sister of Scotland’s David I, married Nesta to Gerald FitzWalter of Windsor, the Constable of Pembroke. She would notably become the female progenitor of the FitzGerald dynasty in Great Britain and Ireland.
**Fergus’s son Uchtred was called a cousin of Henry II, King of England, by 12th century English chronicler Roger de Hoveden. Henry II was a maternal grandson of Henry I, and this would support the genetic link to Princess Elizabeth.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Joseph M. McDowell & Mary Queen, 1839

Source: Lumpkin County, Georgia, Marriage Book A-1, 1838-1849
(click to enlarge)
Georgia
Lumpkin County
To any Judge Justice of the Inferior Court Justice of the Peace or Minister of the Gospel  You are hereby authorized to join together in the holy Estate of Matrimony Joseph M. McDowell* and Miss Mary Queen and to make your return on this license to this office of their actual _ intermarriage and of the day on which the same was solemnized  Given under my hand this 16th of June 1839. 
M.P. Quillian C.C.O.
By Bessy Turner
June 16th 1839. I have this day Join together in the holy Bands of Matrimony Joseph M McDowell and Miss Mary Queen  Bessy Turner J.P.
____________

*I am speculating that this may actually be Joseph Moffett McDowell, son of Joseph "P.G." McDowell and Mary Moffett, claimed by many to have died young. Census data proves that both bride and groom, as well as their parents, were born in North Carolina. In 1822, sixty-one families moved to Georgia's Nacoochee Valley in Habersham County from Burke County, North Carolina, during the Georgia Gold Rush. Lumpkin County, just west of Habersham, was the area where the rush initiated, and was created in 1832 in conjunction with the seizure and survey of Native American lands. (White County was formed between the two counties in 1838 from parts of Habersham and Hall counties. Joseph and Mary McDowell's federal census data indicates they lived in White County 1860-1880 after residing in Habersham 1850, though they may not have physically moved.)

Another key to the theory is Joseph and Mary's third child, a son, my great-great-grandfather. Born 1847 in Habersham County, Georgia, he was named Adolphus Erwin McDowell. In 1848, James Moffett McDowell (born 1791), who had inherited McDowell House at Pleasant Gardens (in what by then had become McDowell County, North Carolina) from his late father P.G., deeded the property over to his late wife Margaret Caroline Erwin's brother Adolphus Lorenzo Erwin in order to pay off debts. The matching names of Joseph's son Adolphus Erwin and possible brother-in-law Adolphus Erwin are simply too blatant to pass off as random coincidence. The implication of a Pleasant Gardens connection is too strong to ignore. Research is ongoing. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Joseph of Pleasant Gardens
Congressional Biography

From the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
"McDOWELL, Joseph, (cousin of Joseph McDowell [1756-1801]), a Representative from North Carolina; born at 'Pleasant Gardens,' near Morganton, Burke (now McDowell) County, N.C., February 25, 1758; attended schools at Winchester, Va.; served in the Revolutionary Army and was commissioned a major; was subsequently general of militia; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1791 and practiced in Burke, Rowan, and Rutherford Counties, N.C.; member of the state house of commons 1785-1792; elected as an Anti-Administration candidate to the Third Congress (March 4, 1793-March 3, 1795); renominated but declined to be a candidate for reelection in 1794; resumed the practice of law and engaged in agricultural pursuits; member of the commission appointed to settle the boundary line between North Carolina and Tennessee in 1796; died on his estate, 'Pleasant Gardens,' near Morganton, N.C., March 7, 1799; interment at Round Hill on his estate."

Joseph of Quaker Meadows
Congressional Biography

From the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
"McDOWELL, Joseph, (father of Joseph Jefferson McDowell and cousin of Joseph McDowell [1758-1799]), a Representative from North Carolina; born in Winchester, Va., February 15, 1756; moved to North Carolina with his parents in 1758; attended the common schools and Washington College (now Washington and Lee University), Lexington, Va.; served against the Indians on the frontier and later took an active part in the Revolution, attaining the rank of colonel; engaged in planting; elected to the Continental Congress in 1787, but did not attend; delegate to the State constitutional convention which ratified the Constitution of the United States in 1789; member of the State house of commons in 1791 and 1792; unsuccessful candidate for election in 1794 to the Fourth Congress; elected as a Republican to the Fifth Congress (March 4, 1797-March 3, 1799); was not a candidate for renomination in 1798; moved to Kentucky in 1800, but returned to North Carolina in 1801; died at his brother's home at Quaker Meadows, near Morganton, Burke County, N.C., February 5, 1801; interment in Quaker Meadow Cemetery, on his father's plantation, near Morganton, N.C."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Silas McDowell, on Morganton (part 7)

Morganton and its Surroundings Sixty Years Ago, excerpt, by Silas McDowell, c. 1877, manuscript (transcribed by Ann Walker, ©2009)

    ...It was perhaps more than a month before Mrs McEntire had an opportunity for a long conversation, and then she commenced the second sad story thus—

    Twenty two years ago my husband was Sheriff of Burke county, and kept the jail, and at that time the most common crime was horse stealing, and hence the law against that crime was vigorous, hanging for the first offense, and sometimes on very slight testimony. My story is based on an instant in point. Sometime in the month of July there was brought to Jail a handsome and well grown youth in his 18th year named John Handricks [sic]. In a few days he was followed by his mother, a noble looking old lady named Elizabeth Handricks, who continued with him 'til his death, for he was hanged in a few weeks afterward. Their prior history was this– Elizabeth had married, during the Revolutionary war, a celebrated tory leader named James Handricks, who was afterward killed, leaving Elizabeth and her only child John, in one of the middle Districts of South Carolina. But, her neighbors were Whigs, and at school John was taunted with the fact of his father being a Tory. This caused his mother to sell out and locate on the head of North Pacolet near the mountains, where was a neighborhood of respectable men who had given support to King George of England, and, in this secluded spot Elizabeth and John had lived up to his 18th year, when he parted from his mother for the first time, and visited an uncle in Wilkes county. The first night on his return home his horse died, and he then prosecuted his way on foot, but what he expected to be his last days travail, and that would bring him to his mother, night overtook him when he was full eight miles short of home, and far away from any residence. Foot-sore and exhausted he sank to rest under the spreading boughs of a large pine tree and soon fell asleep, and perchance to dream of his mother. At break of day he awoke and resumed his journey. After sunrise he was overtaken by a gentlemanly looking stranger mounted on a fine horse, who addressed him thus—"Young man, you appear to be tired walking: I assure you that I am tired rideing [sic]; suppose you mount my horse a while." The young man thankfully complied, and the stranger went on to say that he "could on foot cut off a bend in the road, but for him to wait at the fork of the road if he reached there first." Reaching the designated point the young man stopped, and soon saw a company of men on horseback who rode up and arrested him as a horse thief, and brought him to Burke Jail, and his mother learning the fact immediately followed, and continued with her son up to his execution, the date of which, and that of his trial can be known by reference to the records of the criminal docket of the Superior court of Burke county which read thus—

    State of North Carolina Morgan District
    Superior court of law, September ten 1794
    Present and presiding the Honorable Samuel Ash and John Williams

    State versus John Handricks
    Arraigned and pleads Not Guilty Indictment Horse stealing

    Jury impanneld [sic] and sworn.

    The jury find the prisoner at the bar John Handricks guilty of the felony and horsestealing whereof he stands charge, as in the bill of indictment.

    State versus John Handricks
    John Handricks was at this Term found guilty of Horse stealing on a bill of Indictment for said offence, was this morning called to the bar to receive the judgment of the court, and it being demanded of him why sentence of death shall not be pronounced against him sayeth nothing; it is therefore commanded by the court that the said John Handricks be taken from whence he came, and from thence to the place of execution and that he be hanged by the neck until he be dead; and it is ordered by the court that the Sheriff of Burke county carry this sentence into execution on Friday the 26th instant, betwixt the hours of 12 and 5 o'clock.

    The Indictment is ____ on the 1st day of August 1794, and the execution took place on the 26th of the _____ month_ a summary proceeding, surely. John Haywood was Pros Attorney.

    _______

    When brought to the gallows the youth—(& he was a handsome young man) in a manly voice made a short address in substance as follows— "Citizens of Burke county, there are many of you here this day to see my execution—to see as you suppose, a criminal render up his life to atone for a breach of law. It is in vain that I reiterate that I am innocent of the charge, because a jury of my country, upon circumstantial evidence, have honestly, no doubt, pronounced that I am guilty of Horse stealing. God's providings are mysterious: but I die innocent of the charge. Sheriff McEntire a word to you, and I will be through. You have been kind to me, and also to my mother. God bless you. Now do your duty, and do it quick, but O: it will kill my poor mother, I know it will!" There were now not a dry cheek on the ground save that of his mother; she was as rigid in feature as a statue and as tearless, and to quote from an ancient poet—
    "She looked like Niobe in her grief
    Where sighs nor tears could give relief."

    She embraced her son with the piercing exclamation—"Fare well for a while my unfortunate son!" And like a statue she stood by and saw life depart—the last quiver of his manly limbs: and when in his rude coffin she tried to compose his distorted features and smoothe the hair on his manly forehead, and then imprinted a mother's kiss and rose from her knees with simple words. "My work on Earth is finished." All this with tone so coolly and businesslike that the murmur ran through the crowd—"That woman sure lacks a mother's heart!"

    Was this the case? We will see.

    I pressed her to leave the ground and go home with me; but she shook her head and answered_ "Mrs McEntire you mean well, but there is no ___ in I—my heart is broken:" and gathering her mantle around her, she hurried through the crowd.

    That evening, two miles South of Morganton near the Rutherford road a woman was seen, and she seemed to be asleep, reposeing [sic] on her mantle: on approaching her she was discovered to be Elizabeth Handricks—She was dead! Her grave yet marks the spot where she died, while superstition makes the school boy's heart beat quick if darkness should overtake him before he passes that lonely grave.

    Ten years after Handricks' execution a celebrated thief and counterfitter [sic] met Justice, and was hanged. He confessed to having been the man who placed John Handricks on a horse that he had stolen when he found himself pursued. I impulsively exclaimed—"John Handricks' name shall be redeemed!"

    I went, immediately, to the clerks office and procured the above copy from the record of his trial. But my landlady remonstrated thus—"McDowell where is the use of such a thing? John Handricks' body has lain quietly in its grave for twenty two years and [most of remaining text is illegible] ….

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Silas McDowell, on Morganton (part 6)

Morganton and its Surroundings Sixty Years Ago, excerpt, by Silas McDowell, c. 1877, manuscript (transcribed by Ann Walker, ©2009)

    ... As the reader is prepared to believe, during my stay at Morganton I became the protege of my affectionate old landlady Mrs Nancy McEntire, and many of my leisure hours were spent in her company, for really she was a warm hearted sensible and well educated old Irish lady, with only enough of the Irish brogue lingering on her tongue to lend to her kind words that tender pathos that vibrates deep down in the heart. She related to me two incidents that made an indelible impression on my memory, and a recital of these will perhaps, close this publication, and I will give them under the name of "The two stories of my landlady."
    It must be remembered that my landlady was a very pious woman, and yet, in one of our conversations she astounded me with the following question—"McDowell, are you never tempted to doubt the even handed Justice of God in His dealings with the Human family?" I admitted the fact, but that I ever repelled the wicked thought by the recollection of God's promise, that on the Day of Judgment that he would vindicate his dealings with Man. "Yes," she replied, "that is a happy thought, and, but for its comfort I should have been in my grave many years ago." "But," she continued, "during my life I have met with two instances, and it was them—the remembrance of them—that suggested the wicked question I asked you." "McDowell," she continued, "I have a secret—a secret pent up in my own breast for more than forty years, and revealed to no one up to this time, and now, I have resolved to tell it to you. Do you recollect, McDowell, how I was embarrassed when our eyes met when I first saw you?" I replied affirmatively. "McDowell, there was a cause for that, and that cause is the basis of my secret. I have loved but one man in my life—he was a youth in Ireland and I have never seen a man like him—not 'til I met you; and that was the cause why the sight of you startled me." "But, McDowell, I have a story to tell you, a sad story, and it relates to my early history; but don't be alarmed with the thought that I will bore you, for I will be brief in its narration.
    "My maiden name was Young, and I was the only child of an Irishman belonging to the middle classes and a tenant of Col Stewart, who lived at Castle Roigh—(Stuart was the father of the Lord Castle Roigh, now prime minister of England.) This is the last digression I will make. My father and mother both died before I was five years old and I was raised in the family of a paternal uncle, and being heir to two thousand pounds I was a well educated as my uncle's daughters, and grew to be a woman of some pretention for beauty, and had many suitors. Among these was Robert Maxwell, a small graceful black-eyed man with dark curly hair and fair skin, and he was quite witty and intelligent. We became betrothed, which fact, my uncle learning opposed on the ground that Robert Maxwell held no landed property, and he annoyed me by insisting that I should receive the attentions of an old ______ draper at least thirty years my senior. Maxwell and myself had arranged to elope, and go to America, but we were betrayed, and I, confined to my room and closely watched; from which, in a closed carriage I was taken to the city of Cork and placed on board a small ship bound to Charleston in the United States. This was just at the close of the War of the Revolution and in the year 1784. On the next day after I was placed on board the ship I was visited by my uncle and his family, who had come to take leave of me and, also, there soon came onboard James McEntire and a Catholic priest. My uncle, in a few words, stated that he had transferred his guardianship of me, with my money, to his worthy friend James McEntire, and bade me rise to my feet and the priest would make me his wife. Of what followed I have no recollection, and when my mind returned I was in the city of Charleston in a boarding house utterly void of strength, and was recovering from a severe attack of Typhoid fever, and attended by the Dr and James McEntire. I demanded of McEntire how I came there, but the Dr had me hush and not attempt to speak until my strength returned. It was near a month after, before McEntire informed me I was his wife; and the ensued a scene that I will not trouble you with: but I informed him plainly, that as a husband I loathed him as I did a toad,— That I could not love so old a man, and never never could render him the sacred duties of a wife. To confess the truth McDowell I have never loved James McEntire, and though his uniform kindness subdued my hatred, for he was honorable and kind, I can say upon honor, that without loving him I have made him a loyal wife, but, my countryman Tom Moor has hit the nail on the head where he avers that 'Love is a light which shines but once on Life's dull stream.'" But this closes my landlady's first tale.
...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Silas McDowell, on Morganton (part 5)

Morganton and its Surroundings Sixty Years Ago, excerpt, by Silas McDowell, c. 1877, manuscript (transcribed by Ann Walker, ©2009)

    ... The ten years of monotonous life that I spent at my trade makeing [sic] or shapeing [sic] garments at Morganton, the recital could not contest any one, and I soon found it to be true as Mrs McEntire had stated that it would be the case; a strong prejudice against me as a mechanic: but to the honor and praise, and I say it with grateful feelings toward the ladies of Burke of that period, that, without exception they treated me with a respect and kindness fully up to my moral and mental worth. I cannot make the same remark in relation to some of their parents and brothers. It is my pride to say now, in old age, that throughout my long life, Woman has ever stood my friend, while with Man, my friends have been few, and far between and all of these few have been gentlemen of honor. Among these men I left about a score in Burke, not one of whom now survive save B.S. Gaither: but he was only seventeen when I left there.
    But these my trials all ended before the second year in Morganton closed. Causes for this change were many, but the strong one was, my industry and sober habits contrasted but too damagingly with most of the sons of respectable families in Burke. Among my friends left in Burke who had the strongest hold on my affections were these—Sidney S. Erwin, Alfonso Erwin, James Avery and B.S. Gaither, a youth then at school; while among older men were Col W.W. Erwin of Belvidere, Charles McDowell of Quaker Meadows, and Isaac T. Avery of Swan Ponds; and I had the pleasing consciousness of my high regard being appreciated, an evidence of which, in one instance was, that when Col Avery took the management of a branch of the Fayetteville Bank, he notified the citizens of my county that they could have a loan of twenty-five thousand dollars on notes recommended by Silas McDowell. But it is time that I return to the subject referred to at the heart of this article, to wit—"Morganton and its surroundings sixty years ago." I have already shown that at that period the town was utterly destitute of anything attractive as related to public buildings, church or educational buildings. This state of things began to change in the year 1817, and the change was rapid, during the next four years: instance— within that time the Presbyterian Church was built; also the Male and Female academies; with the Revd Chancey Edy and lady conducting the schools and his reverence also filled the pulpit, while Morganton had a church elder, to wit Thomas Walton. And it was within that period that Walton built a brick dwelling opposite John Caldwell northwest of the court house, and that Sam Greenlee built his brick house on the top of a hill S.W. of Morganton, and put away his black wife, married Miss Sackit[?] and started a decent family.
    This was about all the improvements made in Morganton except a new Jail, built of bad brick, and that ___ _________ referred, up to the time I left in 1826. But in the country this was a period of great improvement— instance: Col Avery built an addition to the old brick residence at Swan Ponds, while Charles McDowell built a brick residence at Quaker Meadows; and also Col James Erwin built a brick mansion on his farm above the junction of Upper creek and Catawba, and John Greenlee left Vine Hill near Morganton and built a brick mansion on the Turkey cove estate. I will here remark that it was through the influence of gentlemen of the legal profession whose friendship I had secured while at Morganton that I received the office of Clerk of the Superior Court of Macon County, the office at that time being conferred by the judges.— Reader, perhaps you think me egotistic? Did you ever see a self-made man who was not? I never did.— A proud consciousness of having, with none but God's help, done the thing himself will, occasionally crop out, try to hide it as he will.
...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Silas McDowell, on Morganton (part 4)

Morganton and its Surroundings Sixty Years Ago, excerpt, by Silas McDowell, c. 1877, manuscript (transcribed by Ann Walker, ©2009)

    ... The old lady remarked, that as my business would bring me in contact with the citizens of Burke, that she would, for my benefit, exhibit to me a kind of portrait gallery of those families who occupied the front rank in Burke's social circle; as well as a kind of rear rank; that is to say, families who were tolerated in consequence of their wealth.

    "I will begin," she continued, "with the old patriarchs of the county—the few survivors from whom have descended the very best families in the county. The oldest man among these is Arthur Erwin, living on Upper creek; he was once a man of sound practical sense, and of amiable character; but a plain unassuming man; is now high up in eighty, and the father of Col W.W. Erwin of Belvidere. The next is Alexander Erwin, brother of Arthur, and two years younger: their farms join. They are quite unlike in character, Alexander having been devoted to books and a thorough knowledge of the current literature of the age, and withall, when young, a wit, and a dandy: his best representative is Col James Erwin, clerk of our county court. He has many daughters and three sons by his last wife, but none of these are of much promise. The next oldest man is Col. Waightstill Avery of Swan Ponds, four miles up the river. He was once a great lawyer, and [an] amiable man, but now confined at home from weakness in his limbs: he is represented by his only son named Isaac, lately married to Harriet, eldest daughter of Col W.W. Erwin.

    "The next is John Rutherford of Muddy creek 12 miles above Morganton, he will be represented by his only surviving son John; two of his sons having died in the state of Mississippi: his son John is a queer man, but said to have brains.

    "The next is Col John Carson of Buck creek, twenty six miles above Morganton: his best representative promises to be his son Joseph, a lawyer of some note living in Rutherford county. Carson's last wife was the widow of Genl Joseph McDowell of Pleasant Gardens, and Joseph McDowell's best representative is his son John, living in Rutherford County. The homestead, the Gardens, are owned by his youngest son James, but he is no Jo, and will never set the world on fire. James Murphey is our next oldest man, and is a good financeer, acquiring fast and holding on to all that he ever grasps. He has an only son named Jack, a dull man.

    "Then, there is Col John McGimsey of Lineville [sic] valley: he has two sons, John and William—clever young men. The there is old Daniel Forney of Upper creek; very clever, yet made a fool of himself by marrying a young girl while he was near sixty—he will be represented by a large family of children. And then, there is old Col Andrew Baird of Gunpowder creek who has a fine family, and makes bar iron; and there is also old Sam [Newland?] that married a Tate, of the same section, twenty miles in the N. East section of the county. And besides these there are on Johns river the three Perkins brothers and their families; but Jo has the most pretty daughters; and there is Major Hiland, who married a Perkins; all respectable, but unkind to their slaves. Also, there is Dr Thos Bouchell and family, they are tip-toppers, and live up to and, perhaps, beyond the Drs income: but the girls marry well, two of them [ . . . ] Lenoir, the first having died. And then there is old Dave Tate of Morganton and his family: Dave is a kind hearted wicked man, in whom evil and good are about equally mixed, and is very popular with the poor, and represents Burke in the legislature.

    "Next, come in the Greenlee brothers, five of them. They hold vast property, but their social position is not what might be expected; but I must say little about that, for Dave Greenlee is master to my niece, while John has for wife one of the best ladies in the country: pious, accomplished, and kind. But the drawbacks on the family are Ephraim, Sam, James and Bill. Ephraim married Sally Howard of Virginia and they commenced a race who could drink the most brandy! She won, but will not live twelve months, while he can drink himself full, and it don't seem to hurt him.

    "Sam keeps a black woman for wife, and that woman is the greatest curiosity I ever beheld. She is coal black; but her form and features that would be a good model for a statuary chiseling out a H___. Jim and Bill are idiots, —nearly.

    "Another batch of wealthy brothers are the Harshaws: they may be called the Arabs of our respectable society, and form no part of it. Now comes in the names of younger men, such as Charles McDowell of Quaker Meadows; Abe Flemming of Flemming island; and indeed I might name scores of others who are amiable men, but I am growing weary of the thing, and will cut short, and let you go to rest."
...

Silas McDowell, on Morganton (part 3)

Morganton and its Surroundings Sixty Years Ago, excerpt, by Silas McDowell, c. 1877, manuscript (transcribed by Ann Walker, ©2009)

    ... When Mrs McEntire learned that I had resolved to settle in Morganton she manifested great interest in my success; an interest without abatement all the while I lived in Morganton, a period of a few months over ten years.

    Touching the subject of making Morganton my home she seemed to only one doubt of my success, and that doubt rested on her opinion that Burke society would not appreciate me at my true value; and from the sole cause, that I was a mechanic: informing me that in Burke society there was an inveterate prejudice against all strange mechanics, and that the more intelligent and plausible they were the stronger was the prejudice, and the closer they were watched. And she continued, "The citizens, particularly the parents and guardians of girls have substantial reason for this prejudice, particularly if the mechanic is handsome, intelligent, and of graceful manner. Twenty-five years ago there came to Morganton a mechanic who would have filled the above description precisely; he was by trade a tanner, from the state of Massachusetts and his name Caleb Poor. Among his vast accomplishments, he had a fine voice and was a scientific musician. To shorten the story, he was employed to conduct a tanary [sic] for Col. Waightstill Avery of Swan Ponds and soon eloped with his daughter Mira, the most talented and accomplished young lady in the state. The first time Poor and Col. Avery met he had attempted to ____ him but got soundly ______ himself. Poor turned out to be one of the most fiendish villains Burke County was ever cursed with, but his wife continued with him fifteen years, when he became such an incorrigible scoundrel that her father procured her a divorce, and he settled her and her six children in Buncombe County on a celebrated farm called "Horse Shoe."

    The next man who damaged mechanics in our society was a handsome and intelligent tailor named Thomas Wilson: he eloped with a beautiful daughter of Major Highland of Johns river, turned out a drunkard and vagabond, and soon brought his lovely wife to grief. The fact is—there has never yet come to Morganton but one mechanic who has not turned out to be either a drunkard or a villain, and he is Major Edward Williams, now living in the North Cove 26 miles west of Morganton. Like Caleb Poor he was a tanner by trade and from the state of Massachusetts, and took his start in the world in the tanyard of Col Avery, but afterward, run a yard of his own in North Cove, has made a fortune and has for wife Polly Brown, the sprightly daughter of Daniel Brown, a rich merchant in North Cove.

    My kind landlady continued— "It is safe McDowell, for you to know these facts before you enter Burke society: I know you will rise, but you must go slow for a while, and until, like Ned Williams, you have established a positive character. Of course, your character is negatively good now, because no harm can be said of you, but that won't satisfy the parents of silly young girls, and you are just the kind of man to steal one of these, if you wished it." I thanked the old lady for the compliment, but assuring her that a "silly girl would be the last thing I would ever steal."
...

Silas McDowell, on Morganton (part 2)

Morganton and its Surroundings Sixty Years Ago, excerpt, by Silas McDowell, c. 1877, manuscript (transcribed by Ann Walker, ©2009)

    ... The young man finished the day by a survey of the town, and first in course way the public buildings which consisted of a shabby, weather beaten courthouse—a frame, weatherboarded structure without paint; and a jail in keeping with it, a mere weatherboarded pen built of hewed logs with a door and two windows like portholes, and secured with iron bars. But as an offset, there was hard by a splendid two story whipping post and pillory.

    The public grounds covered two acres, and facing this was the McEntire hotel, Walton's store opposite, and then, David Tate's dwelling; a rambling frame building, long and lonesome, and suggestive of rats. Tate's was west of the public buildings. John Caldwell's house was north; a white painted house on the corner, and the only clean looking house on the outside of the place ["square" inserted]. The only other house on that side not built of logs was the low frame building in which Col. W.W. Erwin kept a Bank, and his sons and James Avery a store. The next house east was the residence of an old German and his lady (no children), his name was John H. Stevely. His house looked like a barn, weatherboarded, but unstained by paint. These were all the buildings facing the public grounds. The back buildings were these—Dr Bouchell's and Major John M'Guire's. These buildings had some claim to architecturalists, and there was no other house in 1816 wave the one down on the Hunting Creek road, a fourth mile from the Courthouse.

    The youth returned in time for tea and his lady addressed him thus — Young man you have now seen Morganton, and how do you like it?

    "My answer to your question must consist of two declarations that will constitute a paradox," the young man answered, "and will take this shape—Morganton, as the seat of justice for the large and wealthy county of Burke is, decidedly, a shabby town; while Morganton's location as a standpoint to look over the most magnificent valley in the world is the interesting spot I ever beheld, and would bring down the 'bad eminence of a _______!' Your beautiful valley seems as if it was a lovely map unrolled to the eyes of the spectator encircled by a bold framework of blue mountains far away, skirting the horizons, and toward the northwest, and west, these heavy mountains appear to give the horizons an upward tilt, and present many bold, and a few fantastic points, respectively named 'Grandfather,' with the Linville range of mountains, including Table Rock and Short Off, and ranging above these in the distance are seen the Roan, the Yellow, and the Black mountains, with the line of the Blue ridge cruising on southwest. The view south, and east, takes in Digards mountain, the Flint hills and the dumpling shaped South mountains, and these last, you feel like kicking out of your way so as to have one open view commanding the southern plains; and all these constitute the Valley of the Catawba in Burke!"

    "Young man," the old lady exclaimed, "you have the eye of an artist; but how did you learn the names of so many of our mountains?" His curt reply was—"Have been on their tops."

    The young man continued—"Except as a standpoint from which to view the Valley and its surroundings I have, as yet seen but one other object to admire; and upon the whole I have resolved to make some part of Burke County my home for life, and I purpose, on tomorrow, to hang out my shingle as a tailor." "But young man, I'd like to know what other object Morganton holds beside as a standpoint that you admire?" "It is your beauty," the youth answered. The old lady blushed; and was not offended at the compliment, but called him an arch flatterer that would get into trouble before he had lived in Morganton six months," and he did.

    Now is the proper time to stop writing in the second person, and to declare that the young tailor spoken of was none other than the writer of this story, to wit, Silas McDowell of Macon County now in his eighty-second year.
...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Silas McDowell, on Morganton (part 1)

Morganton and its Surroundings Sixty Years Ago, excerpt, by Silas McDowell, c. 1877, manuscript (transcribed by Ann Walker, ©2009)

    In the year 1830 on Hunting creek, Burke County, there died an old German named Christian Bottles. The old man had acquired a local fame that rested on the single fact that he had run his wagon betwixt Morganton and Charleston for more than forty years. During this time it was his hap to bring from Charleston to Morganton, and at different periods three mechanics, who, afterward, made their mark upon the social world, and the first of these left a very ugly mark. His name was Caleb Poor, by trade a tanner, and from the state of Massachusetts. The second was named E[d]ward Williams. He, too, was from Massachusetts, and his trade also was that of tanner. The third one was named Silas McDowell, born in York District, S. Carolina. The above is but an introduction to a long story.

    In the month of July 1816 Bottles drove his wagon to the store of Thomas Walton in Morganton, and on the opposite side of the street of a small brick hotel kept by Mrs Nancy McEntire and her son William, while the real head of the family was James McEntire, who was then, at the age of ninety, blind, helpless, and confined to his apartment, while Mrs McEntire was a a small sprightly old lady, and apparently short of sixty. With Bottles was a slender youth, apparently, not out of his teens: he was fair of skin, lustrous dark eyes, set deeply beneath an ample forehead, teeth pearly white and dark curly hair.

    Bottles presented the youth to Walton in these words– "Col. Walton this is a young tailor I picked up in Charleston and brought mit me; what you tink [sic] of his looks, and how you like him?"

    Walton shook the youth's hand cordially, and then turned to Bottles and observed. "Bottles you have asked me two questions and I will answer but one of them, and that is in relation to the young man's looks: his looks spring in my mind a fantastic conceit that takes about this shape. Nature must have been in a fickle mood when she started to make him; she commenced to make a pretty woman, changed her mind, and the result of her job was a handsome little man." "Yes, and per the too laddies he ish as goot as he ish handsome, and right down charmante," Bottles replied. The youth blushed and remarked, "Friend Bottles has made up an opinion in my favor on a very short acquaintance, which, no doubt, wants to be modified if he knew more of me." Walton took the youth on up the street and presented him to Mrs McEntire and her bachelor son William–a small oldish looking man, and utterly bald headed. When the eyes of Mrs McEntire met those of the young man she appeared strangely agitated, and hurriedly asked, "Young man, are you not from Ireland, and are you not related to the Maxwells?" Both these questions he answered in the negative: but still the old lady kept her eyes on him, and they held two, big, trembling tears. There was a cause; but that, in its proper place.

    After dinner the young man asked Mrs McEntire to point out the direction of their Church, at which she replied, "Young man, I am ashamed to tell you that Morganton has no Church, and never had one; nor has she any educational building. To confess the truth, Morganton has no use for a Church, because there are but four professors of religion in the place, and these are my son William, daughter Matty Walton, and myself : the other is Dave Tate's black man, Brooks." "And where do you bury your dead?" the youth asked. She replied, "We have a private burying ground two hundred paces west of this, and there my oldest daughter Jenny Walton is buried, and there also will my old man and me be buried: but the public burying ground is over the river near Quaker Meadows meeting house. Twenty five years ago a bright young man named McKamey [Makemie] Wilson--he was a presbyterian preacher; he organized a Church at Quaker Meadows and preached there for 20 years: but he married Polly, the lovely daughter of Alexander Erwin, and children came so fast that his salary did not support him, and he was compelled to leave, and we have had no regular preaching since; but Mr Wilson attends once a year to administer the sacrament to the old members." "But do tell me," she continued, "why is it that the first thing you wish to visit in our town is a Church?" "Oh, I hardly know why," he replied. "It is not the Church, but the graves where the dead repose that I want to see: sometimes I am attacked by a feeling so incredibly lonely that I feel like that crazed man we read of in the gospel, who made his abode among the tombs." The old lady uttered one short exclamation– "Unfortunate young man!" and wept.
...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

John Sevier & the McDowells

From History of Western North Carolina; A History (1730-1913), by John Preston Arthur, published by the Edward Buncombe Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, of Asheville, N.C., Raleigh, N.C., Edwards & Broughton Printing Company, 1914:

    (...chapter 5-)

    DR. RAMSEY'S ACCOUNT OF THE ARREST [of John Sevier]
    In his Annals of Tennessee (p. 427) this writer copies Haywood's History of Tennessee :

    "The pursuers then went to the widow Brown's, where Sevier was. Tipton and the party with him rushed forward to the door of common entrance. It was about sunrise. Mrs. Brown had just risen. Seeing a party with arms at that early hour, well acquainted with Colonel Tipton, probably rightly apprehending the cause of this visit, she sat herself down in the front door to prevent their getting into the house, which caused a considerable bustle between her and Colonel Tipton. Sevier had slept near one end of the house and, on hearing a noise, sprung from his bed and, looking through a hole in the door-side, saw Colonel Love, upon which he opened the door and held out his hand, saying to Colonel Love, 'I surrender to you.' Colonel Love led him to the place where Tipton and Mrs. Brown were contending about a passage into the house. Tipton, upon seeing Sevier, was greatly enraged, and swore that he would hang him. Tipton held a pistol in his hand, sometimes swearing he would shoot him, and Sevier was really afraid that he would put his threat into execution. Tipton at length became calm and ordered Sevier to get his horse, for that he would carry him to Jonesboro. Sevier pressed Colonel Love to go with him to Jonesboro, which the latter consented to do. On the way he requested of Colonel Love to use his influence that he might not be sent over the mountains into North Carolina. Colonel Love remonstrated to him against an imprisonment in Jonesboro, for, said he, 'Tipton will place a strong guard around you there; your friends will attempt a rescue, and bloodshed will be the result'. ... As soon as they arrived at Jonesboro, Tipton ordered iron hand-cuffs to be put on him, which was accordingly done. He then carried the governor to the residence of Colonel Love and that of the widow Pugh, whence he went home, leaving Sevier in the custody of the deputy sheriff and two other men, with orders to carry him to Morganton, and lower down, if he thought it necessary. Colonel Love traveled with him till late in the evening.
    "Before Colonel Love had left the guard, they had, at his request, taken off the irons of their prisoner. ... A few days afterwards James and John Sevier, sons of the Governor, . . . and some few others were seen by Colonel Love following the way the guard had gone. . . . The guard proceeded with him to Morganton where they delivered him to William Morrison, the then high Sheriff of Burke county. . . . General McDowell and General Joseph McDowell . . . both followed him immediately to Morganton and there became his securities for a few days to visit friends. He returned promptly. The sheriff then, upon his own responsibility, let him have a few days more to visit friends and acquaintances. ... By this time his two sons . . . and others, came into Morganton without any knowledge of the people there, who they were, or what their business was. Court was . . . sitting in Morganton and they were with the people, generally, without suspicion. At night, when the court broke up and the people dispersed, they, with the Governor, pushed forward towards the mountains with the greatest rapidity, and before morning arrived at them." ...

    ROOSEVELT REPUDIATES THE SENSATIONAL ACCOUNT.
    In a footnote on page 226, Vol. iv, Roosevelt says:
    "Ramsey first copies Haywood and gives the account correctly. He then adds a picturesque alternative account—followed by later writers—in which Sevier escapes in an open court on a celebrated race mare. The basis for this last account, so far as it has any basis at all, lies on statements made nearly half a century after the event, and entirely unknown to Haywood. There is no evidence of any kind as to its truthfulness. It must be set aside as mere fable."

    The late Judge A. C. Avery, in 1889, published in the Morganton Weekly Herald a third account, to the effect that after having been released on bond a few days Sevier surrendered himself to the sheriff of Burke and went to jail; that afterwards, when his case was called the sheriff started with him to the court, but Sevier's friends managed to get him separated from the sheriff and to open a way for him to his horse then being held nearby. But this, too, rests upon what old men of thirty years prior to 1889 said their fathers had told them.