Sunday, January 13, 2008

McDowells in Western North Carolina

From Western North Carolina: A History (1730-1913), by John Preston Arthur, published 1914, Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., North Carolina, pp. 70-71:

    WESTWARD THE COURSE OF EMPIRE TAKES ITS WAY. From Judge A. C. Avery's "Historic Homes of North Carolina" (N. C. Booklet, Vol. iv, No. 3) we get a glimpse of the slow approach of the whites of the Blue Ridge: "According to tradition the Quaker Meadows farm near Morganton was so called long before the McDowells or any other whites established homes in Burke county, and derived its name from the fact that the Indians, after clearing parts of the broad and fertile bottoms, had suffered the wild grass to spring up and form a large meadow, near which a Quaker had camped before the French and Indian War, and traded for furs." This was none other than Bishop Spangenberg, the Moravian, who, on the 19th of November, 1752, (Vol. v, Colonial Records, p. 6) records in his diary that he was encamped near Quaker Meadows "in the forest 50 miles from any settlement."

    THE McDOWELL FAMILY. Judge Avery goes on to give some account of the McDowells: Ephraim McDowell, the first of the name in this country, having emigrated from the north of Ireland, when at the age of 62, accompanied by two sons, settled at the old McDowell home in Rockbridge county, Virginia. His [nephew] Joseph and his grandnephew "Hunting John" moved South about 1760, but owing to the French and Indian War went to the northern border of South Carolina, where their sturdy Scotch-Irish friends had already named three counties of the State, York, Chester and Lancaster. One reason for the late settlement of these Piedmont regions was because the English land agents dumped the Scotch-Irish and German immigrants in Pennsylvania, from which State some moved as soon as possible to the unclaimed lands of the South.

    "HUNTING JOHN" AND HIS SPORTING FRIENDS. "But as soon as the French and Indian war permitted the McDowells removed to Burke. 'Hunting John' was so called because of his venturing into the wilderness in pursuit of game, and was probably the first to live at his beautiful home, Pleasant Gardens, in the Catawba Valley, in what is now McDowell county. About this time also his [uncle] Joseph settled at Quaker Meadows; though 'Hunting John' first entered Swan Ponds, about three miles above Quaker Meadows, but afterwards sold it, without having occupied it, to Waightstill Avery. . . . The McDowells and Carsons of that day and later reared thorough-bred horses, and made race-paths in the broad lowlands of every large farm. They were superb horsemen, crack shots and trained hunters. John McDowell of Pleasant Gardens was a Nimrod when he lived in Virginia, and we learn from tradition that he acted as guide for his cousins over the hunting grounds when, at the risk of their lives, they, with their kinsmen, James Greenlee and Captain Bowman, [who fell at Ramseur's Mill in the Revolutionary War] traveled over and inspected the valley of the Catawba from Morganton to Old Fort, and selected the large domain allotted to each of them."