Affiliated Networks


Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Started by Rob Neufeld in AC-T Book Reviews Aug 3, 2017.

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Oct 6, 2017.

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Aug 25, 2017.



Latest Activity

Carolyn Bennett Fraiser updated their profile photo
Harold N. Stern updated their profile
Feb 6
Glenda Council Beall posted a photo

lexie on deck_edited-1

Lexie likes to sleep in the sunshine even on cold days.
Feb 6
Nancy Werking Poling posted a photo

Latest non-fiction book

In 1945 Indiana prohibited marriage between a white person and anyone with more than one-eighth "Negro blood." Yet Daniel (black) and Anna (white) gave up family, friends, and eventually even country to create a life together. Their 42-year marriage…
Feb 5
Nancy Werking Poling replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Bent Creek, the 4-part story
"Rob, Thanks for putting this into one document. I've been following the narrative in the Citizen-Times. I find it an added resource for my next writing project. In 1910 my husband's grandfather (1866-1947) showed up in Missouri and said…"
Feb 5
Rebecca L Caldwell updated their profile
Feb 5
Lee Ann Brown replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Writer Olive Dargan rises from obscurity
"Great Article!  Heart wrenching about her destroyed manuscripts and letters and notes but I will look for more of Olive Dargan!     Lee Ann Brown"
Feb 5
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Feb 4
Rap Monster posted a blog post


Focusing on the aftermath of the 2008 Financial Crisis, The Bang Bang Brokers tells the story of a hedge fund manager (based on a composite of real life traders) who got rich off of predicting the subprime fallout. His guilt and suicidal impulses lead him to a chance meeting with a Latino Gang, headed by small time weed dealer Ramon (Erik Michael Estrada). In hopes that Ramon will kill him in exchange for the favor, Rolley (played by Donihue) robs a rival Black Gang, earning the pair a ton of…See More
Feb 4
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

First speculators of WNC

Zachariah Candler and Waightstill Avery were first land-buyersby Rob Neufeld             “In mid-2010, while compiling the descendant chart for the Zachariah Candler family,” Charles Haller writes in “Pushing the Indians Out,” his book about first developers, “I became interested in Zachariah’s obsession with accumulating land grants issued by the State of North Carolina.”            Zachariah was one of the resident landowners who jumped on the big post-Revolutionary War land sale.            …See More
Jan 29
Rap Monster updated their profile photo
Jan 26
Rap Monster posted a blog post

Lil Dee aka @Rapmonster Has A Message For Church Hoes And It’s Nothing Nice

Click to Listen: Church Hoes Dee Has A Message for Church Hoes and it’s Nothing NiceKnown for pushing the envelope with his confrontational lyrical offerings, Lil Dee releases his latest single Church Hoes. The title inspires avariety of images ofwhat one may expect to hear in a…See More
Jan 26
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Jan 25
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Kristin Hannah at UNCA February 16

Best-selling “Nightingale” author comes with new saga Rave“I’m thrilled to put into your hands the most honest exploration of both human frailty and resilience that I have ever read,” St. Martin’s Executive V-P and Publisher, Jennifer Enderlin says about Kristin Hannah’s novel, “The Great Alone.”  The publisher is betting the bank on this one. What aboutHannah writes evocative woman’s sagas, and her previous novel, “The Nightingale,” about two sisters surviving Nazi-occupied France, was No. 4…See More
Jan 25
Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Gail Godwin’s latest crosses a mental boundary by Rob Neufeld Asheville author Gail Godwin, now a Woodstock, NY resident, comes back home here Wed., June 14 to present her new novel, “Grief Cottage” at Malaprop’s Bookstore, 7 p.m. “Grief Cottage” is the story of an orphaned, sensitive, troubled boy, named…See More
Jan 25
Connie Regan-Blake posted events
Jan 25

Zachariah Candler and Waightstill Avery were first land-buyers

by Rob Neufeld


            “In mid-2010, while compiling the descendant chart for the Zachariah Candler family,” Charles Haller writes in “Pushing the Indians Out,” his book about first developers, “I became interested in Zachariah’s obsession with accumulating land grants issued by the State of North Carolina.”

            Zachariah was one of the resident landowners who jumped on the big post-Revolutionary War land sale. 

            Many of the early developers were non-resident speculators, who bought immense tracts, which overlapped with those of smaller claimants, who had to file pre-emption claims to hold onto what they had.

            John Burton—buyer of 400 acres that included what became downtown Asheville—had been one of those pre-emption claimants.

            The speculators, by the way, didn’t fare too well in certain cases.  They often borrowed money for their purchases and then ran into problems—for instance, delays caused by lack of roads and wars that prevented immigration of settlers.

            Speculators Robert Morris, John Nicholson, and James Greenleaf of the North American Land Co. of Philadelphia exceeded their acreage limits by using false names.  They bribed officials, overpriced shares, ultimately defaulted, and ended up, Haller writes, in the “infamous Prune Street Jail, a Philadelphia debtor prison.”

            Nicholson died in prison.  Morris spent 41 months there, was released thanks to a new bankruptcy law, and died five years later at age 72.  The two of them owed $3 million to 61 creditors.  Greenleaf got out of prison after a year, having declared bankruptcy.

            Meanwhile Candler, living in the area of his holdings, Haller states, moved “progressively down the French Broad (from present-day Transylvania County) with each stage of new acquisitions.”


Waightstill Avery


            “Eventually,” Haller reveals, “I learned that Waightstill Avery, Burke County’s top frontier lawyer, exceeded Zachariah Candler in his pursuit of acquiring early land grants.

            Avery, North Carolina’s first Attorney General, bought up 151 blocks in Burke and Buncombe Counties starting in 1778, and moved to his estate, Swan Ponds, west of Morganton, in 1781.

             Many of those tracts came into his hands while he was confined to a chair.  In 1801, he’d been thrown from a horse, shattering both legs in a way that could not heal sufficiently.

            He was 60 at the time.  His son, Isaac Thomas Avery, a teenager, came home from studying law to take care of his father and run the plantation.

            Retired from politics and courtroom law, Waightstill “continued to wear the colonial style of dress until his death,” the UNC Libraries webpage for the Avery Family papers notes.  Perhaps he dressed for work and meetings, as he was busy buying land around the Linville and Toe Rivers, where he had hopes of finding gold.


Listen up


            Educated at Princeton, after growing up in Connecticut, Avery made education one of the top causes in his career.  The part of the N.C. Constitution that established schools and teacher salaries in Nov. 1776 is said to have been in Avery’s handwriting, Edward Phifer Jr. states in his history of Burke County.

            He had children around him, four of own, mostly grown; five of his younger brother, Rev. Isaac Avery, who died in 1799; and later in life, grandchildren.

            His library was the largest in Western North Carolina, Governor David Swain said, according to Samuel A’Court Ashe’s “Biographical History of North Carolina.”

            British General Charles Cornwallis burned Avery’s Charlotte law office down in 1780.  Avery had been colonel of the militia of Jones County (north of Wilmington); and in 1775, participated in the writing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, a precursor to the U.S. one.

            Eleven Connecticut Averys had died at the Battle of Fort Griswold in Groton at the hands of Benedict Arnold, Waightstill learned from his brother, Solomon, the great-grandfather of John D. Rockefeller.

            For 30 years, Waightstill bought thousands of acres of land around Grandfather Mountain, hoping in part to discover gold.  He sent his slaves, of which he had 24, to dig mines, Haller recounts.

            One of the most colorful stories is about his duel with Andrew Jackson.


False as hell


            In 1788, Avery was a 47-year-old lawyer with the oldest and largest practice in this region.  In Jonesborough, Tenn., he was opposed in a case by 21-year-old Andrew Jackson, who had just gotten his license and moved to Jonesborough the year before.

            According to sources consulted by John Allison for his 1897 book, “Dropped Stitches in Tennessee History,” Jackson was losing.

            Avery cited “Bacon’s Abridgement,” the top authority on modern English law, a copy of which, bound in buckskin, Avery always carried with him.  Jackson ridiculed Avery’s pet source, and Avery responded with a sarcastic remark about Jackson’s ignorance.

            “Jumping to his feet,” Allison relates, “he (Jackson) exclaimed, ‘I may not know as much law as there is in Bacon’s Abridgement, but I know enough not to take illegal fees.’”

            Apparently a new schedule of fees had been issued by the state, and Avery had taken two pounds instead of one pound six shillings.

            “It’s false as hell!” Avery hissed about the charge.

            Jackson tore a page out of a law book, wrote a challenge to a duel on it, and handed it to Avery.  Avery accepted.  Later, they shot their pistols into the air, as agreed.

            There’s another version of this story, funnier, and more of a credit to Jackson.

            In this account, Jackson had the upper hand in court.  Avery, surprisingly, had forgotten his green bag with “Bacon’s Abridgement” in it, and asked for a recess until the next day.

            Jackson took an opportunity to sneak into Avery’s room and substitute a book-sized slab of bacon, wrapped in buckskin, for the book.  When in court, Avery went to produce the book out of his bag, out tumbled the piece of bacon.  Amid the laughter, it was Avery who challenged Jackson to the duel.

            The versions of the tale varied with the geography of the teller, Allison had discovered.



Pushing the Indians Out: Early Movers & Shakers in Western North Carolina & The Tennessee Territory by Charles Haller (Money Tree Imprints trade paper, July 2014, 288 pages, $24.95).  The book includes authoritative appendices on the early land grant claimants, their descendants, and their grants.  It is available through Amazon.


Views: 14

Reply to This

© 2018   Created by Rob Neufeld.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service