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City Lights Bookstore posted events
7 hours ago
Gary Carden posted a video

2012 Award Winner for Literature -- Gary Neil Carden

A literature and drama teacher turned storyteller, Gary Neil Carden is an award winning playwright whose tales are informed by mountain life in North Carolin...
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Gary Carden updated their profile
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Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Stories of Asheville's homeless

History of Asheville’s homeless: humanity on trialby Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTION: Jim Parton and Kirk Faulkner, two homeless men at A-Hope, where Jim is getting help finding housing and Kirk is making job connections.  Photo, 2017, by Rob Neufeld.“I admire my daddy more than any other human on…See More
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Lockie Hunter posted an event
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Writers at Home at Malaprops at Malaprops

March 19, 2017 from 3pm to 5pm
A.K. Benninghofen, Lockie Hunter and Beth Keefauver will offer a free reading at the next installment of the Writers at Home series, presented by UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program (GSWP), at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 19, at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood Street in Asheville. This monthly series of free readings is hosted by GSWP director and novelist Tommy Hays.See More
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City Lights Bookstore posted events
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Susan Weinberg posted an event

Reading by Poet Bianca Spriggs at Three Top Room, Plemmons Student Union, App State University

March 30, 2017 from 7:30pm to 8:45pm
A reading by poet, multi-genre artist, and core member of the Affrilachian Poets Bianca Spriggs in the Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series at Appalachian State. Spriggs will also present a craft talk from 12:30-1:45 in the Price Lake Room of the Plemmons Student Union. Free admission.For more info, see the press release http://www.news.appstate.edu/2017/03/06/bianca-spriggs/Parking info is at parking.appstate.edu.…See More
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City Lights Bookstore posted events
Mar 14
Toby Hill posted a blog post

Hester

HESTER      Growing up in Asheville,  N.C. in the 50’s and 60’s seemed, at the time, to be filled with a rhythm of adventure and strange encounters sprinkled with an assortment of particularly interesting and somewhat odd characters. One of those persons who fascinated me as a child was my father’s friend “Hester. “       My dad was about as straight an arrow as anyone could find. He seemed to a preadolescent, somewhat indolent son, frankly boring. Looking back from a perspective of 70 years, I…See More
Mar 11
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

African-American musicians in Asheville

African-American musicians flourished in Asheville neighborhoodsby Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTION: The Outcasts, the state’s Battle of the Bands winner in 1979, included: (kneeling l to r) Edward Stout, saxophonist; Darriel Jones, drummer; (seated) Patricia McAfee, vocalist; (standing l to r) Marvin Seabrooks, trombonist; Mike…See More
Mar 11
Tipper posted a blog post

Blind Man's Bluff

According to the Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore, the game Blind Man's Bluff is as old as the 16th Century. It was a game I never liked playing as a kid. I was always afraid someone would get hurt-namely me! Its one of those games that makes grown-ups yell things like "Somebodys going to…See More
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Mary-Chris Griffin shared Rob Neufeld's discussion on Facebook
Mar 6
Bob Plott replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Hunters and Plott hounds
"Thanks for sharing this Rob--and the book plug too. I have never seen this photo before. I have several others from the 1942 article, but this was a new one. The man on the truck looking down is WWII hero Little George Plott--who I profiled in my…"
Mar 6
Tipper posted a video

I'll Be All Smiles Tonight

old VHS film from 2002, a little distorted by the video conversion process... This song features a high lead by Pap and a harmony underneath. In the key of D...
Mar 5
Tipper posted blog posts
Mar 5
Jan Schochet shared Frank Thompson's event on Facebook
Mar 4

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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