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East Asheville history and sites

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Feb 27.

The German experience settling WNC 1 Reply

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History. Last reply by Scott Dockery Feb 16.

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City Lights Bookstore posted events
Aug 12
Glenda Council Beall posted a photo

FullSizeRender Lexie in the pillows

This is my little Lexie, a chihuahua mix who is tiny but so sweet. Here she is trying to sleep under my pillows. She is a burrower. Makes a great watch dog because she has a fierce bark.
Aug 10
Glenda Council Beall posted an event

Tribute to Kathryn Stripling Byer at Jackson County Public Library, Sylva, NC

October 1, 2017 from 2pm to 4pm
On October 1, Sunday afternoon, 2 PM, at Jackson County  Library in the Community Room, NCWN and NCWN-West will honor the late Poet Laureate, Kathryn S. Byer . Everyone is invited to come. We will share her poetry and talk about her achievements and her legacy for writers and poets in NC. If Kay touched your life in some way, come and pay tribute to her. We all miss her and this is a way to share our mourning for losing her and show our appreciation for what she did for us. See More
Aug 10
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WRITERS CIRCLE IN SPRING

"On Saturday, September 9, 10:30 a.m., Richard Kraweic will teach a class at Writers Circle. He will teach how to organize a poetry book for publication. I know I need to learn that lesson. How about you?"
Aug 10
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WRITERS CIRCLE IN SPRING

"We have a memoir class going on now until the first Wednesday in September. Wish you could join us in a class at Writers Circle around the Table."
Aug 10
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East Asheville history and sites

A meaningful tour of East Asheville PHOTO CAPTION: View of Beverly Hills suburb, from a painting by Gibson Catlett that had once hung at subdivision offices.  Courtesy Special Collection, Ramsey Library, UNC Asheville.            I was walking in the Beverly Hills neighborhood the other day and noticed a few…See More
Aug 3
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

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
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Julia Nunnally Duncan Poetrio reading at Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe

August 6, 2017 from 3pm to 4pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be a featured Poetrio poet at Malaprop's Bookstore/Café on Sunday, August 6, at 3 p.m. Julia will be reading from her new book A Part of Me. Fred Chappell says of A Part of Me: "Duncan's every reader will be reminded of some person, place, or time important to recall in a quiet hour."See More
Jul 28
Nancy Werking Poling posted an event

Nancy Werking Poling at Pack Library, downtown Asheville

August 9, 2017 from 12:30pm to 1:30pm
Nancy Werking Poling will read from her new book, Before It Was Legal: a black-white marriage (1945-1987).The Winters' forty-two-year marriage spanned key historical periods of the 20th century and took them from Indiana to Mexico City. Freed from U.S. racism, Daniel felt "as Mexican as chile verde." Meanwhile, Anna, a reserved white woman who struggled with speaking Spanish, experienced no similar sense of liberation. Before It Was Legal is not a happily-ever-after story, but an honest…See More
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City Lights Bookstore posted events
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City Lights Bookstore posted events
Jun 29
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Gail Godwin full interview for Grief Cottage event

Gail Godwin talks about Grief Cottage            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
Jun 13
Jack J. Prather posted a blog post

First Woman NC Poet Laureate's Biography

A Biography of Late NC Poet Laureate Kathryn Stripling Byerin Hendersonville Author's Six Notable Women of North CarolinaA biography of the late Kathryn Stripling "Kay" Byer of Cullowhee, the first woman and longest-serving (2005-2009) Poet Laureate in the state, is featured in Six Notable Women of North Carolina by Jack J. Prather of Hendersonville, founder of the Young Writers Scholarship at Warren Wilson College. The 43-page biography includes poems selected by the poet who passed away on…See More
Jun 9
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event

Julia Nunnally Duncan at Marion Community Building

June 17, 2017 from 10am to 3pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be a featured author at the McDowell County 2017 Local Author Festival at the Marion Community Building in downtown Marion on Saturday, June 17 from 10-3. The event is sponsored by the McDowell County Public Library and is free and open to the public.See More
Jun 6
Short-short Stories & Riddles posted a blog post

Mom's has-been groove in ghost-boy novel

Marcus, in Gail Godwin’s new novel, Grief Cottage, recalls his friendship with Wheezer, whom he’d once beaten up at school because Wheezer had exposed Marcus’ shameful secret about his mom.  Now Marcus, age 10, is an orphan.  His dad has always been unknown to him; and his mom has just died in a car accident. Relocated to his aunt’s beach house, Marcus, despite the safety of the place, finds himself in trouble. He’s communicating with a ghost.  He’s having dreams about a non-existent older…See More
Jun 3

South Buncombe’s early owner made an epic trek

by Rob Neufeld

PHOTO CAPTION: A Conestoga wagon, like the one the Murrays travelled in down the Philadelphia Wagon Road in the 1750s.  From the Library of Congress Photographs and print Division

 

            “The time has come,” Samuel Murray might have announced as he, his wife, Elizabeth, seven children, two in-laws, four grandchildren, and 12 slaves left what is now Newberry, S.C. to settle in what is now Fletcher.

            The year was 1795.  It had been 45 years since Samuel, at age 11, had traveled with his father, William, and three brothers down the Philadelphia Wagon Road to the Long Lane settlement, a Patriot enclave in the Loyalist region of Ninety-Six.

            When the Revolutionary War reached its hostile climax in the South, Tory attacks on the Long Lane settlers, many of them Scots-Irish, became merciless.

            In 1781, soldiers in Major William Cunningham’s notoriously savage Loyalist regiment, captured Robert and James Dugan, Patriot soldiers visiting their mother in Long Lane, hanged them, and then hewed them to pieces with broadswords.

            After the attackers left, John Chapman chronicled in his book, “The Annals of Newberry,” based on accounts he’d gathered 40 years later, the mother “began to collect with her own hands the mangled remains of her murdered boys,” and buried them without coffins on a hillside.

            This story surely found its place in Murray lore.

            Samuel Murray had served with Col. Thomas Dugan of the Ninety-Six community under Gen. Francis Marion in the 1770s.  The slaughtered Dugan brothers “were related by marriage to the Murray family,” Brenda Bagwell Coates states in “At the End of the Road the Journey Begins,” her book about the Murray clan.  She is probably referring to the marriage of Samuel’s son James to Col. Dugan’s daughter, Margaret, in 1791.

            There was a long legacy of fierceness in the Murray family, going back to the landed Murrays who’d left Scotland and Ulster County, Ireland because they would not submit to English authority. 

            The 15th century Murray motto was “Furth, Fortune, and Fill the Fetters,” derived from an injunction to go after pirates, take their booty, and put them in chains.

            Samuel’s cousin, Robert Murray, exemplified that maritime spirit, for after trying out and rejecting South Carolina, he returned north and became the top shipping magnate in New York.  George Washington was a good friend. 

Robert’s wife, Mary Lindley Murray, showed her spunk when, left alone at Murray Hill with her two daughters, she tricked British General Lord William Howe into resting for a couple of hours while Patriot General Rufus Putnam escaped Manhattan.

            There’s a painting of “Mrs. Murray’s Strategy” in the Library of Congress.

            So, as Samuel and his clan packed pots and pans, bedding and board, road emergency gear, granddad’s ancestral dresser, and other provisions into their four wagons for a 160-mile trip from their established plantation to the untamed wilds, they carried a store of legacies in their hearts.

 

Slaves

 

            In the 1800 census, Samuel Murray is listed as having three slaves.  The sons of his who are listed independently in the census are recorded as having none.

Samuel’s three slaves might be “Nancy & her two children,” whom he’d acquired from Andrew Erwin in Buncombe County in 1800, according to a deed.  What happened to the 12 slaves that Samuel had brought with him from South Carolina?  Did he free them?  I can’t trace that.  Did he sell them?   There are no deeds on record.

According to Coates, the senior slave, Ben, had been skilled.  He drove one of the wagons on the Murray journey.  Other slaves on that trip were couples with children. 

The history of African-Americans gets lost in the dust of shuffled papers as the Murrays proceeded with the main thrust of their lives, business prosperity in a land with new economic requirements. 

            In backcountry South Carolina, the land supported monocultures and required crop rotation and cheap labor. 

In Western North Carolina, the soil was rich, lying in strips fed by plentiful water, which also powered mills.  Much of the best land was still available in 1795.  The area that Samuel had scoped out the year before with his brother, William, who’d moved to the Mills River region in 1788, lay in the path of what would be a north-south connection to Asheville.  As a wealthy early-comer, Samuel would have some say over roads.

 

Perils and promise

 

            William Murray’s arrival in then Burke County had been only four years after Samuel Davidson had been killed by Cherokee warriors in what is now Swannanoa; and three years after the Treaty of Hopewell, which had officially ceded much Cherokee land west of the Blue Ridge to the United States.

            The Treaty of Hopewell was supposed to fix the western boundary of U.S. expansion, but several more treaties followed, taking more land, leading Cherokees to call such documents, “talking leaves,” that is, easily blown away.

            Fear of Indian attacks did not cease after the treaty, with good cause.

            “A small party of Cherokees set out from the more western parts of North Carolina in the summer of 1793, to attack the white settlements on Swannanoa River,” F.A. Sondley wrote in his 1930 “History of Buncombe County.”

            Sondley then reported how Colonels Doherty and McFarland of East Tennessee had led 180 mounted riflemen east, destroyed six Cherokee towns, killed 15 Cherokees and took prisoners.

            James Mooney told the rest of the story in his “Historical Sketch of the Cherokee.” 

Capt. John Beard, directed by John Sevier, had previously killed 15 Cherokee at a conference in Echota (now under Tellico Lake) in retaliation against attacks on boundary-crossing settlers by Chickamaugas and Creeks.  Cherokee chiefs planned to avenge the deaths, and were pacified by government action.  Beard was arrested; and yet later acquitted.

Proceeding at a rate of about six miles a day through disputed territory (the Hopewell Treaty had been signed in South Carolina, near present-day Clemson), Murray and his party, as they stopped at homes, taverns, and blockhouses, kept hearing tales of Indian attacks on farms and thefts of livestock.

Mixed feelings about settlement had to have preoccupied the Murrays at times.  They had an affinity for the Cherokee as well as a fear of them.  They idealized the Cherokee’s relationship with the land; and had learned much from their native ways.

Samuel’s wife, Elizabeth, Coates relates, “practiced cooking first hand under her mother who...benefitted from her family’s initial friendship with the Indians, and their advice on what vegetables grew best and even how to prepare them.  This included the introduction of corn into our lives.”

The Revolutionary War also bequeathed conflicting feelings.  The road to North Carolina involved connecting the dots between Scots-Irish habitations; and yet the future meant working and even intermarrying with settlers of various backgrounds.

The Murrays’ route passed significant Revolutionary War sites, conjuring up stories of Civil War-type animosity.  And yet the war had made Samuel Murray an expert in the art of convoy travelling, for in 1780 and ’81, he had served as wagonmaster in the Continental Army.

Eventually claiming land between Hooper Creek and Cane Creel, Samuel Murray went about establishing a community, named Murrayville; and an inn.  He would come to own 12½ square miles, from today’s Lake Julian to Fletcher.

 

Rob Neufeld writes the weekly “Visiting Our Past” column for the Citizen-Times.  He is the author of books on history and literature, and manages the WNC book and heritage website, “The Read on WNC.”  Follow him on Twitter @WNC_chronicler

 

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