Venture back in time by visiting the small pre-civil war homestead of two famous North Carolina brothers
By JP Chartier
Just north of Asheville, North Carolina huddled amidst the rolling hills of the Reems Creek Valley is where you’ll find the small homestead and birthplace of arguably western North Carolina’s most influential figure ever – Zebulon Vance, and his less famous older brother (brigadier general during the Civil War no less) Robert Vance.
So who is Zebulon Vance you ask?
Well Zeb is most famous for being the charismatic governor of North Carolina during the Civil War, but ole Zeb was a busy man, and he lived a very politically-rich life, including that of a – Lawyer; United States Congressman (1858); Commander of the 26th North Carolina Regiment (1861); Governor of North Carolina (1862), and United States Senator for three terms!
It was said that Zeb could mesmerize a crowd of folks with his captivating speaking ability and overall likability, but it was his skill in the art of winning a debate that ultimately won him political fame and celebrity. So yes, it can be said that Zeb was a master debater…
The Ride Out to the Vance Birthplace and Homestead is aesthetically pleasing to say the least, I follow a lonely stretch of road that leads from a charming mountain-village of 1,300 souls called Weaverville in western North Carolina. The road wriggles its way through sleepy mountain vistas and the land is dotted here and there with old-style farmhouses, but this is an area mostly left undisturbed by humans.
Just as the road seems intent on disappearing into the upcoming mountain, I notice a perfectly manicured slice of land encircled by an old wooden fence just off the side of the road. Inside, there are six log-style 19th century buildings, including the two-story Vance home and a visitors center sitting cozily together. And instantly my mind conjures up a scene from “Little House on the Prairie.”
Inside the Vance House
A peek inside the Vance house shows that they had it pretty good. Below is a picture of the original 1795 fireplace.
The Loom House
Much of the cloth and clothing used by the Vance family was produced in the Loom House on a loom much like the one pictured below.
The Tool Shed
Like the name says, this small building was used to store all the tools, and a wooden bench inside was used to do repairs and build things on.
The Spring House
The Vance’s used the spring water from this Spring House to cook, drink and clean with. The small building is constructed over a natural spring, the same one the Vance’s used. Water would be carried from the Spring House to the Vance House in buckets. Inside, there is also a trough, the spring water would flow into the trough where crocks of milk, butter, and other foods could be placed to keep chilled by the cold water.
The Slave Cabin
The original slave cabins (thought to be three) were situated across the street from where they are now. The Vance’s had 16 slaves here in 1811. These slave quarters are very nice compared to the norm.
If you find yourself in the Asheville area and want a family friendly place to spend about an hour or two learning some cool North Carolina history and experiencing first-hand what is was like to live in the 1800’s, then hop in the car, drop the top and enjoy the 20 minute scenic ride from Asheville to the Vance Birthplace.
At Gutter Pup Adventures.com you can expect to read well-written and entertaining articles about the people and places that often get overlooked at many popular vacation destinations around the world.